Politics

California files suit to block Trump administration's decision to terminate DACA

FILE: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. The California attorney general announced he is filing suit Tuesday to block President Trump's termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. The Obama-era program lets roughly 200,000 young, unauthorized immigrants in California to live and work in the U.S. legally.
FILE: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. The California attorney general announced he is filing suit Tuesday to block President Trump's termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. The Obama-era program lets roughly 200,000 young, unauthorized immigrants in California to live and work in the U.S. legally.
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California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit Monday to block President Trump's termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.

Attorneys general from Minnesota, Maryland and Maine joined in the challenge, Becerra told reporters during a live-streamed press conference held in Sacramento.

"No state will be more affected…than California," Becerra said of the decision to rescind DACA. "It is palpable here in California." 

Becerra was joined by Eva Jimenez and Rosa Barrientos, two young DACA recipients.

"When the Trump administration rescinded DACA, they didn't just threaten the future of hundreds of thousands of young Americans like Eva and Rosa," he said. "The Trump administration also broke the law." 

Trump administration officials said last week they were killing the Obama-era program, which since 2012 has provided roughly 800,000 young unauthorized immigrants nationwide who arrived in the U.S. as children with work permits and temporary protection from deportation. About 200,000 of the young immigrants live in California.

The lawsuit alleges that the Trump administration’s decision on DACA violates recipients’ Fifth Amendment due process rights because their personal information is now at risk.

Becerra also said young immigrants who signed up for DACA, paid fees and went through background checks were promised they would be protected from deportation.

“We don’t bait and switch in this country," Becerra said. "We don’t tell people one thing, and the next, put them in harm’s way by having them come forward and do what’s right.”

The complaints reads that “DACA grantees rearranged their lives to become fully visible and contributing members of society by seeking employment, pursuing higher education, and paying taxes, but are now at real risk of removal and deportation.”

The lawsuit also alleges that federal officials “abused their discretion and acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner” in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, which establishes how federal agencies proposed and establish regulations.

California's DACA lawsuit comes on the heels of one filed last week in New York by 15 states and the District of Columbia. It alleges that Trump's decision to end the program is unconstitutional and rooted in ethnic bias, and that it violates the due process rights of young DACA recipients who bought into the program after being given guaranteed protection.

That lawsuit also alleges that Trump's decision, which would leave DACA recipients unable to work legally, will hurt businesses and state colleges and universities.

The states included in last week's lawsuit are New York, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, New Mexico, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Delaware,  Illinois, Iowa, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Chapman University law professor John Eastman on Monday questioned the reasoning behind Becerra's suit, especially since the other states and the District of Columbia filed a somewhat similar lawsuit. 

“I think this lawsuit is so frivolous that I think it is just grandstanding,” Eastman said.

Becerra is running for attorney general in 2018, the office he was appointed to earlier this year.

However, he said that the state, filing on behalf of California residents, might at least have stronger legal standing to sue over DACA than the University of California, which filed suit last Friday.

Eastman believes the state lawsuits will face hurdles if they make it to the U.S. Supreme Court, noting that the Obama administration created DACA by an executive action – and that the Trump administration terminated the program in the same manner.

The DACA program will continue in place until March 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last Tuesday. Trump administration officials say that will give Congress six months to consider legislative action on the status of the DACA participants.

Sessions said the administration was acting because President Obama created the program without Congressional approval in what he called "an unconstitutional exercise of authority."

There is pending legislation in both houses of Congress proposing a path to permanent legal status for current DACA recipients, and for other qualifying immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as minors.

DACA recipients whose work permits and deportation protection are set to expire before March 5 have been given a small window to renew their DACA status — they have until Oct. 5. After that, there will be no more renewals, if the Trump administration's action stands. DACA recipients will gradually lose their protection and become vulnerable to deportation as their permits expire.

This story has been updated.

DACA Lawsuit