15 states and DC sue over DACA
NEW YORK—Fifteen states and the District of Columbia sued the US government on Wednesday to block President Donald Trump’s plan to end protection against deportation for young immigrants, saying it was motivated by prejudice against Mexicans.
The planned recension affects 800,000 immigrants, including 10,000 Filipinos.
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano of the Philippines announced on Wednesday that the government would assist the Filipinos affected by the revocation of protection for undocumented immigrants.
Cayetano urged Filipinos in the United States to actively support efforts to pass legislation that would benefit immigrants enrolled in the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (Daca).
Evidence of bias not strong
Legal experts say the evidence of bias is not strong in the case involving Daca.
“It might be able to muck up the works, maybe push off the effective date of the repeal, but I don’t see litigation being successful in the same way as the travel ban,” Kari Hong, an immigration expert at Boston College Law School, said, referring to the lawsuit earlier this year that limited the Trump ban involving predominantly Muslim nations.
As indications of Trump’s bias, the suit cited his previous statement referring to some Mexican immigrants as rapists and his decision to pardon former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of contempt for ignoring a federal court order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.
“Ending Daca, whose participants are mostly of Mexican origin, 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,” said the lawsuit filed in federal court in Brooklyn.
In its fight against the travel ban, Hawaii argued that it was illegally motivated by religious discrimination against Muslims and used statements Trump made as a candidate to support that claim.
A federal judge agreed and blocked the ban, though the US Supreme Court later allowed a version to move forward.
The attorneys general who brought the Daca lawsuit—all Democrats—represent states where the population of Daca participants ranges from hundreds to tens of thousands.
Known as “dreamers,” they were brought to the United States illegally as children or came with families who overstayed visas.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Tuesday that the program would end in six months so Congress could have time to find a legislative solution for people in the program.
Opponents of the program called Daca an unconstitutional abuse of executive power.
Supporters of the Daca program disagreed.
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said Trump’s plan was “cruel, shortsighted, inhumane” and driven by a personal bias against Mexicans and Latinos.
He said the 42,000 New Yorkers with protected status under the program were largely model citizens.
‘The best of America’
“They are the best of America,” Schneiderman said.
“Dreamers play by the rules. Dreamers work hard. Dreamers pay taxes. For most of them, America is the only home they’ve ever known. And they deserve to stay here,” he said.
Devin M. O’Malley, a justice department spokesperson, said the agency looked forward to defending the administration’s position.
Pratheepan Gulasekaram, who teaches immigration and constitutional law at Santa Clara University School of Law, agreed that the bias claim would be hard to win.
“As a general matter, showing animus is not easy, especially showing animus on the basis of nebulous statements that don’t necessarily reference this group,” he said.
Holly Cooper, codirector of the Immigration Law Clinic at the University of California Davis School of Law, disagreed, saying: “Given his past history, pretty explicit statements against people of color and immigrants and people of certain religions, you have a lot of evidence to work with to make this case.”
New applications not accepted
Under Trump’s plan, people already enrolled in Daca remain covered until their permits expire.
If that happens before March 5, they are eligible to renew them for another two years as long as they apply by Oct. 5.
But the program isn’t accepting new applications.
Trump on Tuesday said he had “love” for those who benefited from Daca and said he hoped Congress would help them.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include New York, Hawaii, Washington, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
California, one of the most solidly Democratic states with a large immigrant population, was noticeably absent from the group of plaintiffs.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he planned to file a separate lawsuit, noting that the state has a high number of Daca recipients. —AP
Subscribe to our global nation newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.