KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is back in the national political spotlight with a lawsuit challenging President Barack Obamas plan to allow young undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States without being deported.
An informal adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Kobach is representing 10 immigration agents who contend they are being put in a no-win situation.
They either break the law by not moving to deport illegal immigrants or disobey their bosses by not following the directive, the suit says.
They have sworn an oath to uphold the law and if they follow federal law, they end up disobeying the orders of their superiors. If they disobey the orders of their supervisor theyre disciplined, said Kobach, who filed the suit outside his role as secretary of state.
Theyre put in an untenable and a very difficult position.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Dallas. It names as defendants Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and immigrations and customs Director John Morton. Kobach is the lead attorney in the lawsuit, which is funded by Numbers USA, a group based in Arlington, Va., that advocates for lower immigration and raised almost $5.5 million in 2010.
Homeland Security spokesman Matt Chandler said the new directive complies with the agencys prosecutorial discretion to focus its efforts on arresting and deporting criminal immigrants.
The policy being challenged was announced by Obama in June. Critics saw it as a way to get around Congress in an election year when both parties are courting Hispanic voters.
While it does not provide a path to citizenship or permanent legal residency, the policy allows young illegal immigrants to stay in the United States without fear of being deported.
The directive applies to illegal immigrants who came to the United States when they were under the age of 16 and are not over the age of 30. They must have resided in the United States continuously for at least five years. They cant have been convicted of a felony or a significant or multiple misdemeanors.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services started accepting applications for the program on Aug. 15. It has a $465 application fee.
Local immigration lawyers say they have been flooded with inquiries from potential applicants but have cautioned that the policy could always be repealed with a new president.
An internal Homeland Security document obtained by The Associated Press shows that the government estimated receiving more than 1 million applications in the programs first year, with about 890,000 being immediately eligible.
The new directive already has ignited a backlash. Some states, such as Arizona, Mississippi and Nebraska, are refusing to provide benefits to illegal immigrants even though they would not be deported under Obamas policy.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, for instance, signed an order denying drivers licenses and other public benefits to anyone who qualifies for the so-called deferred deportation program. Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman also refused to provide public benefits to anyone whos accepted into the program.
Critics said the lawsuit, coupled with Kobachs informal role advising Romney on immigration, puts more pressure on the presumptive Republican nominee to more clearly explain his views on the issue.