Immigration Law

4 more states sue Trump administration for canceling DACA

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Xavier Becerra

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

Led by California, four more states sued the Trump administration on Monday over its cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times and Politico reported.

In their complaint (PDF), the attorneys general of California, Maine, Maryland and Minnesota argue that rescinding the program violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fifth Amendment, as well as federal law on how agencies may make rules. They say the cancellation will hurt their residents, economies, businesses, institutions of higher education and regulatory interests.

“DACA grantees came to the United States through no volition of their own. They grew up in this country and many have known no other home,” the complaint says. “Through their sudden and unlawful actions, Defendants are attempting to push DACA grantees back into the shadows of American life.”

DACA grants two-year work permits to people whose parents brought them to the United States illegally when they were children. The permits are renewable, but do not by themselves lead to legal immigration status or citizenship. To qualify, participants must show they haven’t been in serious legal trouble and have pursued school or military service. Former President Barack Obama launched it in 2012 after failed attempts in Congress to pass more comprehensive immigration reforms.

The lawsuit is at least the third to challenge the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA, and the second from a group of state attorneys general. Less than a week before the California lawsuit, a group of 15 states and Washington, D.C. sued the Trump administration under similar theories. The University of California system of schools—whose president, Janet Napolitano, helped create DACA when she was Secretary of Homeland Security—has also sued over the DACA decision, as the Times noted Friday.

Like the other states’ lawsuit, the California lawsuit argues that the federal government violated the Administrative Procedure Act by canceling DACA without the notice and comment period typically required for agency actions, and was arbitrary, capricious and unlawful. The California case also echoes the other states with due process and equal protection arguments based on the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. However, it stops short of the prior lawsuit’s assertion that the Trump administration wanted “to punish and disparage people with Mexican roots.”

When announcing the cancellation of DACA last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions emphasized his belief that DACA exceeded Obama’s executive power and would not stand up to a threatened court challenge. Prior lawsuits against the program had been dismissed for standing reasons. President Donald Trump urged Congress to pass a law replacing DACA, saying he has “a great love” for the roughly 800,000 people who will lose their work permits and protection from deportation on his order. It was not immediately clear whether such a bill could pass.

The administration did not cancel all of the permits immediately, but allowed a six-month window for congressional action. DACA recipients’ permits will start expiring March 5, 2018, according to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke. Recipients who are eligible to renew their permits are able to put in applications for renewal before Oct. 5, and according to the left-leaning Lawyers for Good Government, immigrant legal services organizations are training attorneys to help with those renewals before the deadline.

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