Attorneys general from 15 states, DC sue to save DACA
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, shown here during a 2016 news conference, announced Wednesday he is among the state attorneys general suing to save the DACA program. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images) September 6 at 3:41 PM
A group of attorneys general from 15 states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit Wednesday to stop the administration from winding down the DACA program, which granted a reprieve from deportation to undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.
The suit, filed in federal court in the Eastern District of New York, alleges that rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was a âculminationâ of President Trumpâs âoft-stated commitments â " whether personally held, stated to appease some portion of his constituency, or some combination thereof â" to punish and disparage people with Mexican roots.â
The suit says that unwinding the program would damage states because DACA beneficiaries pay taxes, go to state universities and contribute in other ways and that phasing out the program would jeopardize their ability to do those things.
âRescinding DACA will cause harm to hundreds of thousands of the Statesâ residents, injure State-run colleges and universities, upset the Statesâ workplaces, damage the Statesâ economies, hurt State-based companies, and disrupt the Statesâ statutory and regulatory interests,â the attorneys general wrote in the suit.
Justice Department spokesman Devin M. OâMalley said in a statement: âAs the Attorney General said yesterday: âNo greater good can be done for the overall health and well-being of our Republic, than preserving and strengthening the imparti al rule of law.â While the plaintiffs in todayâs lawsuits may believe that an arbitrary circumvention of Congress is lawful, the Department of Justice looks forward to defending this Administrationâs position.â
The states listed as plaintiffs on the suit are New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia, along with the District of Columbia.
In Maryland, Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) is âconsidering all optionsâ on how to protect the roughly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that the administration was ending the DACA program, saying that officials had reviewed it because of threatened litigation from the state of Texas and others and determined it to be unconstitutional. That is a reversal of the Justice Departmentâs position in the previous administration.
The program, which has allowed nearly 800,000 immigrants who came to the United States as children to obtain temporary work permits and other benefits, will be unwound gradually. Immigrants already enrolled can stay until their two-year work permits expire, and those whose permits expire through March 5, 2018, are allowed to seek renewals if they apply by Oct. 5.
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Trump and Sessions cast the decision to end the program as one made out of respect for the constitutionally mandated separation of powers. President Barack Obama, they said, essentially overstepped in ordering the initiative when Congress wouldnât pass legislation. The president, though, suggested on Twitter he would ârevisit this issueâ if Congress failed to take action to revive the program.
Legal analysts have said lawsuits to save DACA were likely to face an uphill battle to be successful. That is because the same authority that gave Obamaâs Department of Homeland Security the authority to implement the program would give the Trump administration the ability to undo it. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said those suing believed the âarbitrary and capricious wayâ that DACA was rescinded made the action unlawful.
âYou still need a valid, a lawful justification to end the program,â she said. âAnimus cannot provide such a justification.â
In 2014, the Justice Departmentâs Office of Legal Counsel said the program was constitutional but noted that the benefits conferred âcould be terminated at any time at DHSâs discretion.â
The lawsuit from the state attorneys general traces how DACA recipients have become a part of the fabric in the states where they live â" attending prestigious schools such as Harvard University and working at state jobs. It alleges that removing their ability t o live in the United States without fear of deportation could have severe financial consequences.
The lawsuit says that one expert estimated that rescinding the DACA program would cost New York state $38.6 billion dollars over the next 10 years.
âWe know that when bullies step up, you have to step to them and step to them quickly, and thatâs what weâre here to do today,â New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D), a frequent critic of Trump, said at a news conference to announce the lawsuit.
The lawsuit notes that Trump, in the past, made positive statements about DACA recipients but also alleges he has âa long history of disparaging Mexicans, who comprise the vast majority of DACA grantees,â citing as evidence his public statements.
The suit says revoking DACA would violate components of the 5th Amendment, along with the Administrative Procedure Act, which âprohibits federal agency action that is arbitrary, unconstitutional, and contra ry to statute.â It asks a judge to stop the administration from rescinding DACA as well as bar the government from using DACA recipientsâ information, which they submitted to the government voluntarily, to deport them if the program is revoked.
Ovetta Wiggins and Peter Jamison contributed to this report.Source: Google News