A federal judge ruled that nearly a dozen federal immigration agents can move forward with their lawsuit against their own bosses and even President Obama over change in enforcement policy that the agents argue prevent them from doing their jobs.
Federal Judge Reed O'Conner ruled on Friday Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents' case has legal merit. They argue their bosses essentially have forced them to look the other way and not enforce the law -- thus overstepping Congress by changing laws through directives rather than legislation.
The state of Mississippi joined the lawsuit against the administration but judge O'Conner dismissed the state from the lawsuit on Friday in the 35-page opinion.
The agents filed the lawsuit in October against the head of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, and ICE Director John Morton, to ask the courts to overturn last year's directive by Obama to suspend deportation proceedings and offer temporary work authorization to some immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.
“We are very pleased with this ruling," said Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State who's representing the agents and is also widely known as the author of strict immigration laws in Arizona and Kansas.
"It appears that the Obama Administration had hoped that no court would ever review the legality of its executive amnesty," Kobach said.
Chris Crane, the president of ICE agents' union that initiated the legal fight, accused the Obama administration of not even consulting with agents when he made his policy change.
“We’ve repeatedly tried to work with the administration and they’ve just excluded us from everything since day one,” Crane said on a conference call with reporters announcing the lawsuit.
Crane went on to say that the new guidelines left agents powerless to enforce immigration law because they had no way to distinguish who qualifies for deferred deportation.
“The alien has no burden of proof to establish that claim,” Crane said. “So we’re not enforcing the law anymore, we’re not enforcing the policy. It’s pretty much just let everyone go.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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