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Immigrant advocates push against Arizona’s top prosecutor

March 16, 2021 GMT
FILE - In this Dec. 8, 2020, file photo, crews construct a section of border wall in San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge in Douglas, Ariz. A Latino civil rights organization has filed a lawsuit against Arizona's top prosecutor on behalf of nonprofit groups that say his efforts to block President Joe Biden's changes in immigration policy are unlawful. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund Tuesday, March 16, 2021, filed action the suit against Attorney General Mark Brnovich for Arizona-based Puente Human Rights Movement, Chicanos Por La Causa and the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 8, 2020, file photo, crews construct a section of border wall in San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge in Douglas, Ariz. A Latino civil rights organization has filed a lawsuit against Arizona's top prosecutor on behalf of nonprofit groups that say his efforts to block President Joe Biden's changes in immigration policy are unlawful. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund Tuesday, March 16, 2021, filed action the suit against Attorney General Mark Brnovich for Arizona-based Puente Human Rights Movement, Chicanos Por La Causa and the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

PHOENIX (AP) — A Latino civil rights organization has filed a lawsuit against Arizona’s top prosecutor on behalf of nonprofit groups that say his efforts to block President Joe Biden’s changes to past immigration policy are unlawful.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund on Tuesday filed the lawsuit against Attorney General Mark Brnovich for the Arizona-based Puente Human Rights Movement, Chicanos Por La Causa and the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. The groups provide services to immigrants.

The Tuesday filing seeks to void an agreement Brnovich signed with former President Donald Trump’s administration in its waning days. The agreement is among several the outgoing government signed with numerous states, saying they were entitled to to a 180-day consultation period before any executive branch policy changes take effect.

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Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the organization known as MALDEF, said Brnovich’s efforts ignore voters who elected Biden and support his immigration policies. Among other things, Tuesday’s filing argues the federal government has sole power to regulate immigration.

“We are still reviewing the complaint,” said Katie Conner, spokeswoman for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. “It’s disappointing that there’s a humanitarian crisis on the border and the plaintiffs don’t seem to care about the impact it’s having.”

The move comes as a rising number of migrants arrive at the U.S. southern border. New Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has defended his agency’s handling of the situation.

It’s the latest lawsuit springing from last-minute agreements the Trump administration made in its final weeks with numerous state agencies, seeking to keep his tough immigration policies in place.

Brnovich last month filed his own lawsuit against federal immigration authorities seeking to force them to honor an agreement he signed with Kenneth T. Cuccinelli in his former capacity as acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security. Montana later joined the lawsuit.

The newest lawsuit maintains that Cuccinelli was unlawfully appointed to that post. Homeland Security officials under Trump have disputed that statement.

Biden reset immigration policies and paused certain deportations for 100 days shortly after he took office Jan. 20. A federal judge in Texas later put the moratorium on hold through another lawsuit filed in that state.

Biden’s new policies represent a break from the Department of Homeland Security’s direction under Trump, whose administration arrested and removed anyone in the country illegally regardless of criminal history or community ties.