16 attorneys general sue Trump administration over DACA repeal

Attorneys general from 15 states and the District of Columbia are suing the Trump administration, challenging what they say is an illegal repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The suit is led by the AGs from New York, Massachusetts, and Washington, with co-filings from the attorneys general from Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.

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The suit alleges the repeal is discriminatory because 79 percent of the 800,000-odd DACA recipients are of Mexican descent and 93 percent are Latino.

“By definition, Dreamers play by the rules. Dreamers pay taxes. For most, America is the only home they have ever known. And for that they deserve to stay here,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Wednesday, attributing the repeal to the president’s “personal anti-Mexican, anti-Latino bias.”

Trump’s travel ban was recently semi-successfully challenged on similar grounds. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson told VICE News at the time: “The intent behind this executive order was essentially to create a Muslim ban …. They’ve issued a revised executive order that essentially does not change the language of the key sections.” A revised version of the ban was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court, but only in part.

The collective of states aren’t the only ones suing Trump over the DACA repeal — the National Immigration Law Center is looking to amend one of their active cases in Texas challenging the repeal of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) to address the DACA repeal, too.

The lawsuits don’t just allege racism. The repeal, the attorneys argue, also constitutes a breach of DACA recipients’ trust. DACA recipients who turned personal information over to the federal government when they applied for the program were promised at the time that that information would not be used against them. But the Trump administration now says it can’t guarantee that immigration authorities won’t use that information to deport them.

They are also challenging the repeal on the grounds that the Trump administration failed to adequately justify its rationale for repealing DACA, which it’s required to do under federal law.

The Trump administration’s chief justification is that the DACA program is illegal. Only it’s not clear that it is — no court has weighed in on its legality. Though a group of right-wing attorneys general led by Texas AG Ken Paxton had threatened to challenge DACA with a lawsuit in June, they hadn’t done so by the time U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the DACA rollback on Tuesday.