A seven-member coalition of Republican states filed a lawsuit on Tuesday (May 1) against the Trump administration in an effort to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the Obama-era initiative that protects hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.
The lawsuit, filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, further complicates the program’s future. Three federal judges have blocked the termination of DACA, including a ruling last week which argued that the program’s rescission was "arbitrary and capricious."
In September, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration was rescinding DACA and urged Congress to find a legislative solution to the fate of some 700,000 immigrants who benefit from the program. The decision came after Texas and 10 other states threatened to sue the federal government if it did not rescind the measure by September 5, 2017.
Tuesday’s lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Brownsville, asks the court to determine whether Obama’s decision to grant protections from deportation is lawful, noting that the former president created the program without authority from Congress.
The suit reads:
This lawsuit does not call on this Court to resolve any of the challenges pending in California or elsewhere about the validity of executive action in 2017. Rather, this lawsuit challenges whether the 2012 executive action unilaterally creating DACA was itself lawful.
Last week’s federal ruling ordering the Trump administration to continue DACA also called on the government to reopen the program to new applicants, a decision that could benefit hundreds of thousands of immigrants. The judge, however, stayed the decision, giving the Department of Homeland Security 90 days to produce a strong argument for ending DACA.
On Tuesday, six other states—Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia—joined Texas as plaintiffs in the case.
"Our lawsuit is about the rule of law, not the wisdom of any particular immigration policy," Paxton said in a statement. "Left intact, DACA sets a dangerous precedent by giving the executive branch sweeping authority to ignore the laws enacted by Congress and change our nation’s immigration laws to suit a president’s own policy preferences."
"Instead of wasting taxpayer funds to pick on these Americans without status, the Attorney General should join the bipartisan chorus calling on Congress to fix a broken immigration system that denies these kids their rightful place at the American table," state Rep. Rafael Anchia, head of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, told the Texas Tribune.
Joseph Sellers, an attorney with the NAACP, told The Washington Post that the Paxton lawsuit was a worrying development that could force the Supreme Court to take up the case.