Arizona, Montana file motion to halt DHS guidance that limits ICE, as deportations fall

FIRST ON FOX: Arizona and Montana on Friday filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop interim guidance from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that has limited who Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can target for arrest -- which has coincided with a drop in deportations.

The motion, filed to an Arizona district judge, comes as both Arizona and Montana are suing DHS over the interim guidance, issued in the first weeks of the Biden administration, which narrows ICE to targeting illegal immigrants who were: a national security threat, recent border crossers or convicted of an "aggravated felony." It also included a pause on deportations, which was later blocked by a judge in response to a lawsuit from Texas.

While DHS officials have said that the guidance will make ICE more efficient and focused on the most dangerous illegal immigrants, it has also coincided with drops in both arrests and deportations.

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An ICE spokesperson told Fox News this week that the agency deported just 2,962 illegal immigrants in April. The Washington Post, which first reported the figures, also reported that it was the first time the number had dipped below 3,000 and is 20% down from March -- even amid a massive migration surge at the border that has overwhelmed authorities.

Arrests also dropped, going from 5,118 in January to just over 2,000 in April, according to the latest ICE numbers.

Emails released by the Arizona Attorney General's (AG's) office show that ICE officials predicted such a drop, warning that "book-ins" would dip by as much as 50%.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office warns that ICE is not picking up convicted illegal immigrants who are being released from state and local jails, despite having detainers issued -- meaning they are being released into communities.

"It is illegal and unconscionable for the federal government to force the release of dangerous criminals into Arizona communities when they are required to be deported by statute," Brnovich said in a statement. "Upholding the rule of law and preserving public safety must always come before any political or special interest group agendas."

VIDEO: Biden admin has 'essentially' decriminalized migrants crossing over border: Brnovich

Arizona and Montana have alleged that the interim guidance is an effort to achieve the same results as a  100-day deportation moratorium -- which was blocked by a judge in response to a lawsuit from Texas -- and that it would lead to an increase in criminals, drugs and COVID-19 in their states and is in violation of federal law. They also claim it would lead to an increase in healthcare and other public assistance costs in the states.

They argue that it is in violation of federal law, which requires illegal immigrants with deportation orders to be removed within 90 days. The states also say there is no evidence that the interim guidance is being issued due to limited resources.

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