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The Facts —
- On 11 September, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a suit against the Trump administration for its decision to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The attorneys general from Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota have joined California’s suit.
- In a press release from the Office of the Attorney General, Becerra said:
“The DACA initiative has allowed more than 800,000 Dreamers, children brought to this country without documentation, to come out of the shadows and become successful and productive Americans. One-in-four of those DACA Dreamers know California as home, and it’s no coincidence that our great state is the sixth largest economy in the world. In California, we don’t just support and value them – we fight for them. And it’s important that we get this right. We will not permit Donald Trump to destroy the lives of young immigrants who make California and our country stronger.”
- The complaint lists several violations of constitutional and federal law as reasons for the action against the administration.
- The suit alleges that private information about DACA participants given to the Department of Homeland may lead to their deportation, violating the US Constitution’s 5th Amendment right to due process.
- The suit also says that the administration bypassed the federal regulations outlined in the Regulatory Flexibility Act, which “requires the government to analyze the effects of a proposed change on small businesses.”
- Finally, the attorneys general argue that the decision to end DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which “requires such a change to be made for sound reasons, and for the public to be able to make formal comments on it before it’s made into law.”
The Context —
- On 5 September, President Donald Trump announced his decision to end DACA gradually over a two-year period. DACA permits will begin to expire in six months. On Twitter, he called for Congress to find a solution, and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said during a press briefing that it is Congress’s responsibility to find a solution for immigration reform.
- On 6 September, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, joined by 16 state attorneys general, filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for its decision to end DACA. The suit alleges that the administration has “violated the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution by discriminating against DREAMers of Mexican origin, who make up 78% of DACA recipients; violated Due Process rights; and harmed States’ residents, institutions, and economies.”
- In June 2012, the Department of Homeland Security introduced the DACA initiative to allow individuals who arrived illegally in the US before they turned 16 to defer any action that would remove them. According to US Citizenship and Immigration services, “Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status.”
- On 21 July, Becerra and 19 other state attorneys general sent President Trump a letter urging him to “maintain and defend” the DACA program.
- On 29 July, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton led a group of nine other state attorneys general in sending a letter to the Trump administration, which asked the president to “phase out [the] unlawful Obama-Era DACA Program.”
- This letter’s primary complaint is that DACA was established without congressional approval and is therefore unlawful. Accord to the press release from Paxton’s office, DACA “unilaterally confers eligibility for work authorization and lawful presence without any statutory authorization from Congress.”
- This letter does not ask the federal government to rescind DACA permits already given or call for the deportation of any individuals.
Supporters of DACA —
- According to the San Fransisco Chronicle, California Governor Jerry Brown released a statement in support of Becerra’s suit, saying the state “stands with the millions of immigrants who make this state a vibrant and prosperous place.”
- In an opinion piece for The Sacramento Bee, the editorial board wrote:
“Already, more than a dozen states have joined New York and Washington state’s lawsuit over DACA. But California is right to take separate action. This state is home to more than a quarter of those living, working and going to school under the program. The University of California alone has some 4,000 DACA students. These young people are contributing members of our communities.”
Critics of DACA —
- Robin Hvidston, leader of We the People Rising, a grassroots group “seeking to influence – via activism – institutions of political corruption,” told the Los Angeles Times that the suit is “misguided and premature and a misuse of tax dollars.”
- Andrew McCarthy, former assistant US attorney for the Southern District of New York, outlined his argument against DACA as a whole in an opinion piece for the National Review, arguing that the program has “violated core constitutional principles: separation of powers and the president’s duty to execute the laws faithfully.”
- Fox News anchor Gregg Jarrett argues that in addition to “usurping legislative authority,” President Obama’s creation of DACA caused the “[distortion] of prosecutorial discretion.” Jarrett said:
“Those who supported Obama’s actions not to enforce the law argued that he was merely engaging in ‘prosecutorial discretion’… Obama appropriated this doctrine to justify his near boundless discretion to amend, revise, waive or suspend the execution of immigration laws. As chief executive, he empowered himself to decide what laws may be enforced or ignored and what persons may come or go across our southern border irrespective of what the law actually states.”
Elizabeth Rhodes contributed to this report.