Ten conservative-leaning states have a message for President Donald Trump: End Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the program that offers temporary protection for people who immigrated to the United States without documentation as children, or we’ll sue you.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sent a letter on Thursday to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions urging him to agree to roll back DACA, which President Barack Obama enacted in 2012.The governor of Idaho and the attorneys general of Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia also all signed off on the letter.
“Specifically, we request that the Secretary of Homeland Security rescind the June 15, 2012 DACA memorandum and order that the Executive Branch will not renew or issue any new DACA or Expanded DACA permits in the future,” Paxton wrote in the letter. Paxton, however, noted that the request doesn’t require the administration to roll back anyone’s current status or deport them.
Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security announced the end of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program, which would have protected undocumented people whose children are American citizens from deportation. Texas, alongside 25 other states, successfully sued to keep that program from ever going into effect. When the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would no longer fight for DAPA, the agency said, “There is no credible path forward to litigate the currently enjoined policy.”
Now, if the federal government refuses to bow to states’ demands to end DACA by September 5, 2017, the 10 states named in Paxton’s letter will amend their lawsuit against DAPA to include also include all of DACA.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund condemned the states’ move, and its president Thomas Saenz called the letter “craven” in a statement.
“The signatories have etched their names in ignominy throughout all of future history,” Saenz went on. “Their evident xenophobia is not remotely consistent with the trajectory of our nation’s history and future progress. Their political careers and each of their states will suffer from their mean-spirited stupidity.”
In the past, Trump has repeatedly flip-flopped on DACA, calling the program “very, very rough” and promising to “deal with DACA with heart.” Two weeks ago, his administration confirmed that DACA “will continue to be eligible for renewal” — in direct contradiction of Trump’s campaign pledge to “terminate” DACA.
Regardless of Trump’s rhetoric, his presidency has so far largely undermined DACA protections. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data provided to VICE News, the number of “Dreamers,” or those protected under DACA, whose status was revoked thanks to alleged criminal activity rose by more than 25 percent in the first three months of Trump’s presidency compared to the same time frame last year.
As of May, at least 43 people once protected by DACA have been kicked out of the United States.