The day after President Donald Trump announced his decision to end DACA, 15 states and Washington D.C. have filed a lawsuit against him, asking a federal court to throw out the memorandum to end the program.
DACA, short for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” is a 2012 Obama Administration program that allowed undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to live, work, and study in the U.S. on two-year renewable visas
“Rescinding DACA will cause harm to hundreds of thousands of the states’ residents, injure state-run colleges and universities, upset the states’ workplaces, damage the states’ economies, hurt state-based companies, and disrupt the states’ statutory and regulatory interests,” the states argue in the suit.
The suit also aims to block the federal government from using information gathered through the DACA program for immigration enforcement.
New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and the District of Columbia are all plaintiffs in the suit, which was filed in federal court in the Eastern District of New York.
The states call Trump’s decision to end DACA “a culmination of President Trump’s oft-stated commitments — whether personally held, stated to appease some portion of his constituency, or some combination thereof— to punish and disparage people with Mexican roots.”
Because 78 percent of DACA recipients are of Mexican origin, the suit argues, the move to rescind DACA would disproportionately affect Mexican immigrants — making the decision intentional and discriminatory.
It's not hard to prove that claim. The lawsuit cites at least ten instances to demonstrate Trump’s “long history of disparaging Mexicans, who comprise the vast majority of DACA grantees.”
Like his campaign announcement speech, when he called Mexicans "rapists," or the time he accused a federal judge for being biased against him because he was Hispanic (the judge was born in the U.S.), or the time he told Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto that Mexico had "some pretty tough hombres" Peña Nieto "may need help with."
Since DACA was implemented in 2012, an estimated 800,000 recipients have been allowed to live, work and study in the U.S. To be eligible for DACA, applicants must have arrived in the U.S. prior to their sixteenth birthday — and adults as old as 31 could apply for DACA in 2012. It costs $495 to apply (and renew) for DACA coverage.
If Congress does not act within the next six months to come up with a legislative solution that could keep protections for DACA recipients in place, the program will phase out over the next two years. Following Trump's announcement on Tuesday, no new applications will be accepted, but existing work permits under DACA will be honored until their date of expiration, and applications submitted prior to the announcement will still be processed.
This new lawsuit butts heads with another legal threat from a group of states that sparked Trump’s decision to end DACA in the first place.
In late June, attorney generals from nine states, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, warning him that if DACA was not terminated by September 5, the Trump administration would be facing a lawsuit.
On Tuesday, Paxton applauded Trump’s decision to end DACA, and announced he's dropping the lawsuit.
“The president did a good job today, and Jeff Sessions. We’re pleased with the result, and we’re going to move on. We’re going to withdraw this lawsuit. They did the right thing,” Paxton said during a Fox News interview on Tuesday.
Paxton added that they would not sue against any measures implemented by Congress that could potentially preserve protections for undocumented immigrants similar to the ones offered through DACA.
“If it goes through the process of being voted on and being debated, we will not sue if it’s passed by Congress,” Paxton said in the interview.