The lawsuit — which D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and attorneys general for Virginia, Delaware, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York — notes most of the roughly 800,000 people who have benefitted from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program “grew up in this country” and “have known no home other than the United States.”
The attorneys general note “more than 78 percent of DACA grantees are of Mexican origin.” The lawsuit states Trump’s decision to end DACA “is a culmination of President’s 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.”
Trump in 2015 described Mexicans as “rapists” when he announced his campaign at Trump Tower in New York. Two executive orders he signed in January shortly after he took office spurred construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and paved the way for federal funding cuts to so-called “sanctuary cities” that protect undocumented immigrants.
“The consequence of the president’s animus-driven decision is that approximately 800,000 persons who have availed themselves of the program will ultimately lose its protections, and will be exposed to removal when their authorizations expire and they cannot seek renewal,” reads the lawsuit. “The individuals who have relied on DACA are now more vulnerable to removal than before the program was initiated, as they turned over sensitive information to the federal government in their applications.”
The attorneys general also argue the end of 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.”
“Sending these ‘Dreamers’ — including nearly 800 District residents — back to countries they do not know is cruel and will rip District families apart,” said Racine in a press release.
“These young people came to the United States through no fault of their own,” he added. “They attend our schools, universities, and colleges; they work hard and make invaluable contributions in their workplaces and in our community. Along with my fellow attorneys general, I will stand by these hard-working young people to ensure they are treated fairly and feel safe in the only place they’ve ever known as home.”
A press release that Herring’s office released on Tuesday notes more than 12,000 DACA recipients live in Virginia. Herring said they “deserve better than to be thrown to the curb by President Trump in an attempt to please an extreme fringe of anti-immigrant zealots.”
Former President Obama in 2012 enacted DACA.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday told reporters Acting Homeland Secretary Elaine Duke, who is among the defendants in the state attorneys general lawsuit, “has chosen, appropriately, to initiate a wind down process.”
DACA is set to expire on March 5.
The Trump administration will no longer process new DACA applications. Current DACA recipients have until Oct. 5 to apply for a renewal of their status for a two-year period.
“To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here,” Sessions told reporters. “That is an open border policy and the American people have rightly rejected it.”
The decision to end DACA sparked immediate outrage among immigrant rights groups and their supporters. Trump on Tuesday said in a statement his decision to rescind the program has “provided a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act” on whether to allow “Dreamers” to remain in the U.S.