Attorney General Bonta Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Uphold Federal Policy Prioritizing Threats to Public Safety in Immigration Enforcement

Tuesday, September 20, 2022
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today co-led a coalition of 17 attorneys general in an amicus brief in support of guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prioritize immigration enforcement efforts around those who pose the greatest threat to national security, public safety, and border security. Given DHS’ limited enforcement resources, the guidance focuses efforts on direct threats to public safety and reasonably accounts for mitigating factors like a noncitizen's ties to family members and communities in the United States. In the friend-of-the-court brief, the coalition makes it clear that the enforcement guidance is consistent with longstanding practice and supports family unity, as well as community and economic stability.

“Make no mistake: The haphazard, dragnet approach to immigration enforcement being pushed by Texas and other states is dangerous and threatens to destabilize our communities,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Many noncitizens are contributing members of our society. They pay taxes, support family members who are U.S. citizens, and often serve as essential workers. I respectfully urge the U.S. Supreme Court to reject Texas’ attack on the ability of federal law enforcement to focus on going after actual threats to our communities.”

The coalition states are home to millions of noncitizens who are valued and active contributors to our communities, workforces, and civic organizations. These residents attend school, serve as essential workers, enlist in the military, and care for the sick and elderly. They also support millions of family members who are U.S. citizens. Overall, immigrants add billions to federal, state, and local budgets by paying taxes and purchasing goods and services where they live. As a result, the coalition states have a significant interest in supporting the federal government’s judgment to devote its limited immigration enforcement resources toward the subset of removable noncitizens who pose a substantial threat to public safety in their communities, rather than adopt an unprincipled, random approach that can inflict substantial harms on immigrants, their families, and their larger communities.

In the amicus brief, the coalition asserts that DHS’ guidance:

  • Reflects DHS’ reasoned judgment regarding prioritization of enforcement resources;
  • Seeks to enhance public safety;
  • Promotes public health and the stability of communities;
  • Is not contrary to law;
  • Does not contravene U.S. Code Section 1226(c) or Section 1231(a); and
  • Is consistent with a longstanding tradition of prosecutorial discretion.

In filing the amicus brief, Attorney General Bonta is joined by the attorneys general of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

A copy of the amicus brief is available here.

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