DALLAS (CN) – Ten immigration and Customs officers sued the Obama administration, challenging its plan to stop deportation of some young undocumented immigrants and grant them work permits.
Christopher Crane and nine other DHS employees sued Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE Director John Morton Thursday in federal court.
Morton’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, formerly known as INS, is a division of the Department of Homeland Security.
Crane claims the “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children” directive violates several federal laws and forces him and his co-plaintiffs to break the law by not beginning removal proceedings against certain illegal aliens.
“The directive commands ICE officers to violate federal law, as detailed below, commands ICE officers to violate their oaths to uphold and support federal law, violates the Administrative Procedure Act, unconstitutionally usurps and encroaches upon the legislative powers of Congress, as defined in Article I of the United States Constitution, and violates the obligation of the executive branch to faithfully execute the law, as required by Article II, Section 3, of the United States Constitution,” the complaint states.
To qualify for suspension of deportation and a work permit, the undocumented alien must have been younger than 16 when he or she entered the United States, must have had five continous years of residence in the country before June 15, must be in school or have graduated from high school or be an honorably discharged veteran, have a clean criminal history and be younger than 31.
The plaintiffs say DHS began implementing the directive on Aug. 15, including accepting applications and distributing benefits of deferred action and employment authorization.
“The orders in the field that have been given to plaintiffs by their supervisors are that an alien only needs to claim that he is covered by the Directive in order to be released and offered the benefits of the Directive,” the complaint states. “ICE agents are prohibited from demanding that an alien provide proof that he meets the Directive’s criteria.”
The plaintiffs say that ICE and DHS estimate that 1.76 million undocumented people are eligible for benefits under the directive, in a total U.S. population estimated at 11.5 million undocumented immigrants, as of January 2011.
One plaintiffs, ICE deportation officer James D. Doebler, of Dover, Del., claims he fears for his job after he was disciplined for issuing an undocument alien a Notice to Appear in violation of the directive.
“Plaintiff Doebler was issued a Notice of Proposed Suspension,” the complaint states. “Plaintiff Doebler is facing a three-day suspension for arresting and processing the alien for a hearing rather than exercising the ‘prosecutorial discretion’ commanded by his supervisors.
“Plaintiff Doebler requested a written directive ordering him not to issue the NTA. His supervisors have refused to give him a written directive and would not sign any paperwork authorizing the use of ‘prosecutorial discretion.’ Plaintiff Doebler reasonably fears, based on his past experience, that if he follows the requirements of federal law, contrary to the ‘Directive,’ and arrests an alien or issues the alien an NTA, he will be disciplined again. He reasonably fears that a second disciplinary action will result in the loss of his job.”
The plaintiffs seek declaratory relief and an injunction that stops the enforcement of the directive. They are represented by Kris Kobach of Kansas City, Kan., and P. Michael Jung with Strasburger Price of Dallas.
- $1.1 Million