Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced a first of its kind lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday. They hope to stop the Trump administration’s policy of immediately releasing asylum-seekers into the general population, unprepared.
According to New Mexico’s government website, the lawsuit specifically names acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, acting Director Mark Morgan of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and a list of other top U.S. immigration officials.
The suit also named the state’s largest city, Albuquerque as a co-plaintiff.
“The Trump administration has consistently and flagrantly failed in its response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis at our southern border as well as in addressing legitimate border security concerns,” Gov. Grisham said.
She then charged the Trump administration with “demonizing” the vulnerable migrant population while “stoking unfounded fears about national security.”
The aim of the lawsuit is to stop Trump’s immigration officials from quickly releasing asylum-seeking migrants into that state’s local communities while also asking for reimbursement to cover the cost of sheltering and providing care for the migrants while in custody.
State officials, including the governor, claim that releasing migrants into the state’s borderland area without helping them finalize plans violates their “safe release” policy.
“The state and city are asking the court to vacate the federal government’s termination of its safe release policy, as it is without legal force or effect; issue preliminary and permanent injunctions requiring the named defendants to provide asylum-seeking individuals and families the equivalent assistance to that provided under the safe release policy; and require a reimbursement of the expenses the state and city have incurred in response to the unlawful abandonment of the safe release policy,” the official announcement read.
As it stands, asylum-seekers are typically released immediately, instead of being cared for until they can make arrangements.
Gov. Grisham also highlighted the heavy financial burden on local churches, organizations, and nonprofits who are forced to care for and deal with the ill-prepared migrants with nowhere to go and no real plans for the future.
The lawsuit seeks to have the policy change overturned. It also asks that a judge force the federal government to reimburse the state and cities for the costs incurred by the new policy. https://t.co/tuiVG143AA— KOB 4 (@KOB4) June 10, 2019
Though the lawsuit is unique in the sense that it’s the first one like it by a U.S. state, a similar legal challenge in April was filed in the U.S. District Court in Southern California by San Diego County.
Officials there sued to stop the cancellation of various programs that assisted asylum-seeking migrants with communications and logistics while they prepared to travel to their destination city.
According to the Washington Times, the U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on the announcement of the lawsuit.