For Further Information:
TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced today that New Jersey has joined a coalition of 15 states and the District of Columbia in opposing a lawsuit filed by the State of Texas against the federal government in which Texas seeks to dictate immigration policy for the United States.
The coalition filed an amicus brief today in support of the federal government in a lawsuit now before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The lawsuit focuses on a memorandum issued by the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security ordering a review of U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policies and practices concerning civil immigration enforcement. The memorandum – issued on January 20 – called for a 100-day pause on certain deportations to enable DHS to assess its priorities.
In its lawsuit, Texas claims that it entered into a contractual agreement with DHS in the waning hours of the Trump Administration that requires DHS to gives Texas – and only Texas – 180 days’ notice before making certain changes in federal immigration policy, as well as a special opportunity for Texas – and only Texas – to consult with DHS on those policy changes. Texas is asking a court to block the 100-day pause on certain deportations on the ground that the pause violates the agreement.
Today’s coalition brief makes clear that the extraordinary relief Texas seeks would not only violate fundamental principles of federal law and Constitutional principles, but also violate the sovereignty of the 49 States that did not sign or consent to the terms of Texas’s purported agreement.
“We will not allow the State of Texas to dictate immigration policy for the entire nation—especially when that policy would harm those New Jersey residents who are immigrants or who count immigrants among their family members,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Immigrants are an integral part of New Jersey’s communities. They are wage earners and taxpayers. They are our neighbors, colleagues and friends. We are proud to stand with our fellow states in pushing back against Texas’s overreach, where so many of our residents’ lives and families’ wellbeing are at stake.”
The states’ amicus brief asserts that the purported agreement between Texas and DHS is not a valid contract, violates federal law, and represents an unlawful attempt by one President’s administration to bind the hands of the next administration. The brief also argues that the DHS official who signed the purported agreement with Texas was not validly appointed.
According to the states’ brief, the asserted agreement cannot eliminate the federal government’s discretion to postpone deportations or elevate one state’s interest above that of all others.
The states’ brief also highlights the harm that resuming deportations will cause to New Jersey and the other states in today’s coalition, which are home to a significant share of the undocumented immigrants in the United States. The vast majority of whom are highly valued members of their communities and states: they pay taxes, serve as critically-needed workers in essential sectors of the economy, and have family members who are U.S. citizens. And on top of all this, many undocumented immigrants provide services essential to the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including telehealth, delivery of goods and food, and technological and human-resources support for telecommuting.
Today’s amicus brief is not the first time Attorney General Grewal has fought back against Texas’s efforts to use the courts to dictate U.S. immigration policy. In 2018, New Jersey intervened in a lawsuit brought by Texas and others seeking to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In August 2018, a federal court in Texas sided with New Jersey and rejected the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction to end DACA. In June 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump Administration’s attempt to end DACA violated federal law. New Jersey filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case.