Ten States Demand End of DACA

Republican officials from 10 states, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, sent a letter to the Department of Justice threatening further legal action if the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is not ended. That program, instituted by President Obama in 2012, allows undocumented immigrants, called "DREAMers," who grew up in the United States to stay in the country and obtain work authorization. Signers included officials from Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.

The letter states that the original 2012 DACA memorandum is "unlawful" because DACA "unilaterally confers eligibility for work authorization…and lawful presence without any statutory authorization from Congress." The letter, sent to Jeff Sessions, U.S. Attorney General, asks that DACA be phased out, that the 2012 memorandum be rescinded, and that DACA or Expanded DACA permits not be renewed or issued in the future. The letter asks the Trump administration to agree by September 5, 2017, to rescind the 2012 DACA memorandum and not to renew or issue any new such permits in the future, to avoid further legal action.

The states with the most DACA applicants are California, which reportedly has received an estimated 387,000 DACA applications or renewals and for which USCIS approved 359,000 as of August 2016, and Texas, which has received more than 220,000 such applications and for which USCIS approved nearly 200,000 in the same time frame.

Reaction from DACA advocates was swift and intense. Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), said his organization "condemns in the strongest terms each of the state officials who joined in threatening the federal administration to repeal DACA." Accusing the state signatories of "xenophobia" and "mean-spirited stupidity," he said MALDEF "urges the president not to cave in to the toothless threat in [the] Texas letter. Presidential authority does constitutionally extend to protecting DACA recipients, whom the president has repeatedly declared worthy of protection. We urge the president to fight to vindicate that authority." He said MALDEF "takes encouragement from the fact that less than half of the plaintiff states in Texas v. United States joined today's craven letter. For its part, MALDEF, on behalf of the Jane Doe intervenors whom we represent, will be moving to dismiss the case as moot and not appropriate for the threatened expansion."

The letter is at http://www.aila.org/infonet/ten-states-sent-letter-to-doj-requesting-end-daca. MALDEF's statement is at http://www.maldef.org/news/releases/2017_6_29_MALDEF_Statement_on_Texas_Letter_Demanding_Repeal_of_DACA/.