On Tuesday, Texas and six other states filed a federal lawsuit challenging the legality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Known colloquially by its acronym, DACA, the program granted temporary, renewable work permits to some 694,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived to the United States as children. President Donald Trump officially terminated scheme in early September.
However, several judges in Hawaii and along the West Coast ordered injunctions against the program’s termination. While DACA no longer functions in its entirety, officials at the Department of Homeland Security USCIS were instructed to continue processing application renewals.
The 137-page suit directly disputes what Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton calls the misdeeds of “three activist federal judges.” Because of their decisions, claims Paxton, Trump was forced “to leave an unlawful program in place indefinitely as legal challenges drag on.”
Despite Trump’s insistence on using DACA and the fate of its participants as a bargaining chip, the commander-in-chief did seem reluctant to terminate the program last summer. Experts speculate that the president’s hand may have been forced by threats of litigation – a lawsuit which had Paxton and almost a dozen of his conservative fellows ready to file.
While the president complied with the coalition’s demands, the Texas suit is now petitioning the courts to ‘rescind and cancel’ all DACA permits, according to Politico.com.
Texas, writes POLITICO, made a similar, successful argument against a 2014 proposition that provided ‘deportation relief to the parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.’
“This court has the authority to immediately rescind and cancel all DACA permits currently in existence because they are unlawful,” charges the suit. The Republicans are willing to cede some ground, providing that the administration is stopped from granting further renewals, “effectively phasing out the program within two years.”
Trying to arrange a change of venue away from the coasts, Paxton and his supporting attorneys general are asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to declare DACA unconstitutional.
“Left intact,” says Paxton, “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 policies to suit a president’s own preferences.”
Joining Texas in the drive to deport nearly 700,000 immigrants who spent the vast majority of their lives in the United States are Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia. POLITICO notes the coalition is four states short of its September plaintiff count.
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa slammed Paxton’s suit as part of a “cruel anti-immigration agenda,” which “will rip over 124,000 Texans away from their families and jeopardize our economy.”
Other immigration advocates, like DACA recipient Jessica Azua of the Texas Organizing Project, voiced their concerns over the attorney general’s intent.
Paxton, recounts Azua, “said he is challenging DACA not to be cruel inhumane, which the lawsuit is both, but to determine the legality of DACA.”
“But DACA is already being contested in the courts,” said Azua, “so its legality will be determined in due time.”