Former Trump administration officials joined with the state of Texas to file a federal lawsuit on Thursday alleging that President Joseph Biden’s administration is defying the law and putting Americans at heightened risk of coronavirus infection by continuing to allow some migrants who illegally cross the border with Mexico to be released into the U.S.
America First Legal Foundation, a new nonprofit group founded by Trump adviser Stephen Miller, is serving as an outside counsel to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on the suit filed in federal court in Fort Worth.
The suit seeks to give immigration advocates and Biden administration officials a taste of their own legal medicine by invoking the Supreme Court’s decision last year that the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy was inadequately justified.
Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision to join with the court’s liberal wing last June amounted to a reprieve for Dreamers — who came to the U.S. as children but were brought by parents who lacked legal status. The ruling angered many conservatives by frustrating Trump’s immigration policies and decreasing pressure on Congress to negotiate with the administration, but conservative legal activists are now trying to leverage the legal precedent to challenge Biden’s efforts to reverse various Trump-era policies.
The new suit argues that Biden officials have not adequately justified their decisions to rein in orders the Trump administration issued last year, under authority known as Title 42, halting entry of many foreigners to the U.S. as part of virus-mitigation efforts. The suit also alleges that a formal exemption that Biden officials granted to allow unaccompanied minors into the U.S. has been informally expanded to cover families with children.
A Justice Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the suit.
By filing the case in Fort Worth, Paxton virtually guaranteed that it would be assigned to one of two conservative Republican-appointed judges. Court records show that it was indeed assigned to one of those jurists, Trump appointee Mark Pittman.
The suit paints Covid-19 as a grave danger to the U.S. and cites Centers for Disease Control and Prevention death toll statistics that Trump claimed earlier this year “far exaggerated” the actual number of casualties.
America First’s attorney on the case, Gene Hamilton, served as a top Trump administration adviser on immigration policy at the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.
Biden has appointed top regulatory lawyers, such as former Obama administration regulatory chief Cass Sunstein, as part of a bid to ward off legal challenges like the one filed Thursday.