AGO Border Actions

Border Actions

 

Attorney General Mark Brnovich has spearheaded efforts to stop the federal government’s damaging policies that are fueling the crisis at the Arizona-Mexico border. Local law enforcement, communities, and nonprofits are overwhelmed with the surge of human and drug trafficking at our southern border.

In order to protect Arizona communities, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has filed three lawsuits against the Biden Administration and its federal partners since January 2021 related to their immigration policies.

 

Arizona & Montana v. DHS (Challenging DHS Interim Guidance)

Arizona and Montana are challenging the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) interim guidance that presumptively halts nearly all deportations outside of three narrow categories.

The policy is in direct violation of federal law (8 U.S.C. § 1231) that requires an alien, who has received a final deportation order, to be removed from the United States within 90 days. 

DHS Emails Found in Discovery 

The AGO has obtained internal emails and documents from the federal government as part of court-ordered discovery.

DHS provided over 5,000 pages of administrative records (of which 170 were not redacted) that reveal:

  • ICE predicted a 50% drop in their arrests under the new DHS guidance.
  • The policy could result in the release of convicted felons into communities (those convicted of murder, kidnapping, assault, sexual assault, weapons violations, and other serious charges).
  • ICE may have devised a way to revert back to very limited deportation procedures just days after a Texas federal judge issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the 100-day moratorium on removals.
  • View discovery files here.

NEPA Lawsuit

The AGO filed a lawsuit against DHS and federal officials for violating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) over destructive immigration policies.

NEPA requires federal agencies to carefully weigh environmental considerations before taking any major federal action.

In its complaint, the AGO argues that DHS and other federal officials did not provide environmental impact statements or environmental assessments when DHS abruptly halted ongoing border wall construction and also began permitting entry of additional migrants by ending the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

Although courts have repeatedly recognized that increased population and human environmental impacts must be analyzed under NEPA, DHS has never even attempted to do so.

AG Brnovich Amends Complaint in NEPA Lawsuit

Public Charge Rule

The AGO is leading a 13-state coalition seeking to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the Public Charge Rule, which ensures noncitizens can financially support themselves in order to become lawful U.S. citizens or obtain green cards.

The coalition filed a motion to intervene at the U.S. Supreme Court after the Biden Administration abandoned the defense of the law in early 2021.

AG Brnovich’s Calls for Action

April 2021

  • April 9 – AG Brnovich Letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra RE: Border Tour Invitation
  • April 2 – AG Brnovich Letter to VP Harris RE: Border Tour Invitation
  • April 13th - AG Brnovich Letter to Governor Ducey RE: 3 Recommendations to assist in border crisis

May 2021

  • May 12 - AG Brnovich Letter to President Biden RE: Harris to step down

June 2021

  • June 2 – AG Brnovich Letter to Attorneys RE: Scottsdale Hotel turned into ICE Detention Center
  • June 4 - AG Brnovich Letter to DHS Secretary Mayorkas RE: Scottsdale hotel turned into ICE Detention Center
  • June 9 – AG Brnovich Letter to Sens. Sinema and Kelly RE: Border Security Recommendations
  • June 10 – AG Brnovich Letter to President Biden RE: Escalating Border Crisis/End Europe Trip
  • June 30 – AG Brnovich Letter to Facebook RE: Human Smuggling

July 2021

  • July 16 – AG Brnovich Letter to President Biden RE: Title 42

August 2021

  • August 9 – AG Brnovich Letter to DHS Secretary Mayorkas RE: Releasing COVID-19 Positive Migrants
  • August 13 – AG Brnovich Letter to President Biden RE: Replace DHS Secretary
  • August 23- AG Brnovich Letter to President Biden RE: Border Security terrorist threat
  • August 26 – AG Brnovich co-led letter to AG Garland RE: Defend longstanding federal immigration statute

October 2021

  • October 1 – AG Brnovich Letter to DHS Secretary Mayorkas RE: list of DHS officials forced to retire or be reassigned since January 2021
  • October 14 - AG Brnovich Letter to AG Garland RE: Facebook Alleged Smuggling
  • October 19 - AG Brnovich Joins Letter to AG Garland RE: Proposed Rule to Change DHS Asylum Decisions

Migrant Protection Protocols

  • On May 18, along with Texas and Missouri, Arizona moved to intervene in a Supreme Court case considering the validity of the MPP: Mayorkas v. Innovation Law Lab, NO. 19-15716. 
  • Motion to intervene.

AG Brnovich Letter - Converting Scottsdale Hotel into Detention Center

The AGO received several inquiries from Scottsdale residents regarding a proposed contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that converts a hotel, located at North Scottsdale Road and East Mountain View Road, into a U.S. Customs and Enforcement (ICE) detention facility.

Attorney General Brnovich sent this letter to relevant parties regarding the proposed contract.

Press Releases

Cross-Border Partnership

Border security cannot be achieved while criminals can take refuge behind the border to avoid prosecution. To make Arizona truly safe, the rule of law must be established along both sides of the border. The Attorney General has worked closely with law enforcement throughout Mexico to help improve prosecutions at the Mexican state and federal levels. In addition to traveling to Mexico City to meet with the Attorney General of Mexico, the head of the Mexican federal police, and other high-ranking judicial officials, this Office has worked to train over 400 Mexican prosecutors as Mexico changes its judicial system to include more effective American-style jury trials. The Attorney General has also testified before the Mexican Congress on the need to improve Mexican criminal laws to better prosecute cartels.

Southwest Border Anti-Money Laundering Alliance

Southwest Border Anti-Money Laundering Alliance LogoThe Southwest Border Anti-Money Laundering Alliance is the result of a Settlement Agreement reached between the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and Western Union Financial Services, Inc. The purposes of the Program are to: enhance and better coordinate investigations and prosecutions of money laundering in the Southwest Border Area (the area within 200 miles of the United States/Mexico border on either side of the border and including all of Arizona) (SWBA) and other areas affected by money laundering in the SWBA, with the goal of reducing money laundering and thereby reducing violence associated with smuggling organizations operating in the SWBA and in other areas affected by money laundering in the SWBA; enhance coordination of the Alliance states' anti-money laundering (AML) efforts; and fund related training, information sharing, and related expenses in the Alliance states and in Mexico.

Alliance funds were available for federal, state, county, local, tribal, and Mexican Initiatives, including technical assistance, training, personnel, supplies, and contractual support to accomplish any one or more of the Goals of the Alliance Strategy, which are listed below:

  1. Disrupt criminal organizations that engage in cross border violence.
  2. Disrupt the movement of weapons that flow across the southwest border into Mexico.
  3. Develop a Southwest Border Area information sharing network.
  4. Provide training for law enforcement, prosecutors, and private sector partners regarding money laundering.
  5. Support multi-jurisdictional domestic and international money laundering investigations.

INTRODUCTION

The Alliance was governed through an Executive Board consisting of the Arizona Attorney General, the California Attorney General, the New Mexico Attorney General, the Texas Attorney General, the Director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Superintendent of the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions, and the Chief of the Phoenix Police Department (the Board), for a total of seven voting members. The Alliance distributed funds for the Southwest Border Anti-Money Laundering Alliance Program to law enforcement initiatives along the Southwest Border Area.

The Alliance prioritized Initiatives that involved: multi-state and international money laundering mechanisms, the movement of money to smuggling organizations with a record of violence, the movement of weapons from the United States into Mexico or the use of such weapons in Mexico, multi-state information or data sharing or analysis, or training or coordination conferences relating to money laundering and related criminal activity. The Board only recommended funding of Initiatives that had potential to further the Alliance Strategy, which concentrated on a high-level financial AML approach, or that directly impacted substantial smuggling organizations or ongoing facilitators of such organizations.

The core vision of the Alliance was to create a network of people, agencies, task forces, and programs actively engaged in anti-money laundering enforcement in the SWBA. The Alliance built an internal network of analysts and investigators in each state, forming a network of money laundering, financial investigation, and asset forfeiture experts and made them available to SWBA investigators and prosecutors to assist in their money laundering cases. The Alliance developed people and resources and trained investigators, analysts and prosecutors and brought these networks together in periodic conferences to continually improve the level of effectiveness of collaborative enforcement efforts. The Alliance continues to foster cases and programs that directly address the growing power of criminal groups in the SWBA. The Alliance also will leave a legacy network of collaborating individuals, agencies, and efforts that include all related disciplines and all levels of government and spans the entire SWBA, including its Mexican dimension and related industries. The Alliance evaluated all proposed initiatives for their potential contribution to this overall vision.

The Alliance implemented this vision by allocating funds via the SWBA to initiatives that fostered cases, programs, and the creation of this anti-money laundering network and collaboration among the grantees. These efforts had to go beyond the investigative resources of individual agencies. They had to cross jurisdictional boundaries and lead to the arrest and criminal and civil prosecution of money laundering violators. Although an application by a single agency was eligible, it was not considered if its stated goals were best accomplished by a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force. For the same reasons, initiatives that coordinated efforts with related Initiatives and with other initiatives such as the Border Enforcement Security Taskforce (BEST) teams of the DHS, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) initiatives, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) training resources, and federal, state, and local multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task forces were most consistent with the Alliance vision.

Western Union

Cutting off the Illegal Cash Flow

$94 Million Settlement to Aid Law Enforcement in Fighting Border Crime

The most effective method of combating smuggling is to block the flow of funds to the organized criminal cartels that seek to profit from Arizona’s porous border. The Attorney General’s Office has aggressively pursued these “blood wires” sent through Western Union and other money transmitters. In doing so, it has successfully moved millions of dollars in smuggling proceeds out of Arizona. The Attorney General reached an unprecedented $94 million settlement with Western Union which will provide substantial new resources for law enforcement authorities in the four Southwest border states to combat illegal activity along the entire U.S.-Mexico border. 


Phoenix, AZ (Monday, February 3, 2014) – For the first time in history and as the result of a recently amended settlement agreement, Western Union and Arizona will take unprecedented and cooperative steps to combat money laundering. This includes Western Union’s commitment to continue to implement a series of anti-money laundering recommendations. By forging this cooperative and major undertaking, Arizona will be far better positioned to protect its citizens from border violence, gun running, and human and narcotic smuggling along the southwest border.