Ten state attorney generals and a governor are asking the Trump administration to kill the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program that has benefitted nearly a million young immigrants known as "dreamers." The officials threatened to challenge the program in federal court if the program isn't phased out.
Led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the officials sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking him to phase out DACA.
"We respectfully request that the Secretary of Homeland Security phase out the DACA program," they wrote in letter dated June 29 on Paxton's official letterhead. They ask that the 2012 memorandum that created DACA be rescinded and that President Trump don't renew Daca nor issue more DACA permits. The letter is signed by Paxton and the attorney generals from Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia, as well as the governor of Idaho–all of them Republicans.
The document also states that coalition of attorney general will take their case to court if the Trump administration doesn't agree to end DACA by Sept. 5. They'd do so by amending and expanding a deferred-action program related case currently pending in district court.
Immigrant advocates immediately blasted the anti-DACA effort, calling it racist.
"MALDEF condemns in the strongest terms each of the state officials who joined in threatening the federal administration to repeal DACA," said in a statement Thomas A. Sáenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, MALDEF. "The signatories have etched their names in ignominy throughout all of future history. 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."
MALDEF urged President Trump not to cave in to the "toothless threat" from the attorney generals. "Presidential authority does constitutionally extend to protecting DACA recipients, whom the president has repeatedly declared worthy of protection," added Sáenz. "We urge the president to fight to vindicate that authority." He also indicated his organization will fight the attorney generals in court.
Dreamer activists also condemned the move by the Republican politicos.
"It's outrageous and wrong for these far-right Republican politicians to attack immigrant youth and DACA, a program that has worked incredibly well for the past five years," said Greisa Martínez, advocacy director at United We Dream Action, an immigrant youth organization, and herself a DACA beneficiary. "Trump has said that immigrant youth should rest easy, but our lives and our families are in danger when DACA is continually attacked and threatened and when his agents raid our homes."
A CALL TO ACTION
Martínez called on "all people of conscience" to defend and protect immigrant youth and their families. "The racist agenda must be stopped", she added. "There is absolutely no reason why this country should put 800,000 young people, myself included, into the deportation pipeline. This is our home and we are here to stay!"
Photo by Cesar Arredondo
Journalist with more than 20 years of experience working for English- and Spanish-language and bilingual news outlets. Winner of three Best of the West Journalism Awards and a recognition from the National Association of Hispanic Publications. Author's website Email the author