Ten U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees are suing the Obama administration with the help of Kansas' Secretary of State.
Kris Kobach, who is also an immigration adviser to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, is representing the employees. The 22-page lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court in Dallas.
The employees are seeking to block a program that allows young illegal immigrants avoid deportation. “The Directive is an extension of the DREAM Act, which was rejected by Congress, and aims to grant an amnesty to 1.7 million illegal aliens. It violates federal immigration laws that require certain aliens to be placed in removal proceedings,” Kobach said in a statement.
In June, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and President Barack Obama said some illegal immigrants could received a work permit for up to two years.
Under the program, immigrants have to prove that they arrived in the United States before they turned 16, have been in the country for at least five years, are 30 or younger, are in school or have graduated or have served in the military may be eligible. They cannot have a criminal record or otherwise be considered a threat to public safety or national security.
The lawsuit names Napolitano and ICE Director John Morton as defendants. Kobach contends that the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals plan violates federal law and forces ICE employees to break the law by not arresting certain illegal immigrants.
Matt Chandler, a DHS spokesman, said the department uses prosecutorial discretion to focus its efforts on arresting and deporting criminal immigrants, and the newest policy is in line with that effort.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services started accepting applications for the program on Aug. 15. Immigrants have to pay a $465 paperwork fee for the program.
Kobach is no stranger to the issue of immigration. He co-wrote Arizona's controversial law. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down large portions of the law earlier this year.
In his role of Secretary of State, Kobach worked with the Kansas legislature to pass new rules requiring photo ID when registering to vote and casting a ballot. Kobach says the changes are necessary to protect the integrity of the voting system. Critics point out studies that say in-person voter fraud is non-existent and that voter ID laws disenfrancise minorities, the elderly and younger voters.
This past week, Kobach pushed to add language calling for a border fence, a national E-Verify employment system, the end of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and an end to sanctuary cities to Republican Party's platform. The platform committee included Kobach's language in the platform ahead of next week's GOP convention in Tampa, Florida.
Kobach say he is representing the ICE employees as a private lawyer and not in his official capacity of Secretary of State.
The Romney campaign released the following statement to The Hill newspaper regarding Kobach's lawsuit:
"There is no question that the president's executive action is unprecedented and raises large questions as to whether it is within his authority. The courts will have to sort this out, but this kind of uncertainty is unacceptable as these young people brought here as children are seeking clarity on their long-term status. The president's action ruined a bipartisan effort in Congress to forge a long-term solution for these young people. Mitt Romney will work with Congress to forge a long-term solution that will supersede the president's stop gap measure and give these young people certainty."
The lawsuit is funded by NumbersUSA, a group that advocates for reducing immigration to pre-1965 levels. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled NumbersUSA an "anti-immigration" organization.
*Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.