Ten agents with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement are suing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for relief after Napolitano signed a directive they claim forces them to violate federal law.
Napolitano‚??s directive, Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children,‚?Ě would make some illegal aliens immune to deportation proceedings if they meet certain criteria, such as coming to the U.S. before the age of 16 and maintaining a clean felony record. The order has already led to situations in which ICE agents have to choose between keeping step with the administration and carrying out their duty, the plaintiffs say.
According to the lawsuit filed today in the Dallas division of Texas District Court, ICE agent Samuel Martin was assaulted by an illegal alien who had been picked up from the El Paso County Jail by immigration officials and then tried to escape custody. The alien was released without charges under protest from the agents, who were told the action was according to the administration‚??s new immigration policies. Martin is now one of the plaintiffs in the case.
In another incident cited in the lawsuit, plaintiff James Doebler was issued a suspension notice after arresting an illegal immigrant and issuing the individual a notice to appear in court.
During a Thursday afternoon conference call with reporters, the plaintiffs‚?? attorney Kris Kobach compared the new immigration orders to the Operation Fast and Furious debacle, in that both incidents required agents to go against the laws they were sworn to uphold.
‚??This lawsuit is based on the core principle that no administration, Republican or Democrat, should order federal law enforcement agents to break federal law,‚?Ě he said.
Lead plaintiff Christopher Crane told reporters the primary intent of the lawsuit was to protect agents from civil litigation or disciplinary action as they attempt to execute their federal duties.
The new directive, Crane said, was just one of a series of controversial immigration policies supported by President Barack Obama, such as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, that were creating yawning loopholes in the system and failing to have their desired effect.
‚??Out in the field, folks are calling it the inmate act, the criminal‚??s dream act. It‚??s very confusing for us out in the field,‚?Ě Crane said.
The lawsuit asks for a stay on enforcing Napolitano‚??s directive and for reimbursement of all court costs incurred by the plaintiffs.