Texas and six other states filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the federal government seeking to end the Obama-era program that protects hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children.
The Trump administration has sought to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), but the effort to phase out the program has been blocked. About 800,000 youth, called Dreamers, are protected under the program’s umbrella.
The lawsuit asks for all DACA permits to be rescinded or the administration to be blocked from issuing or renewing new requests. Specifically, it is meant to challenge "whether the 2012 executive action unilaterally creating DACA was itself lawful," the suit states.
The legal move comes just one week after a federal judge in Washington ordered the administration to continue the program.
“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.”
“Our lawsuit is about the rule of law, not the wisdom of any particular immigration policy,” Texas Attorney Gen. Ken Paxton said in a statement. “Texas has argued for years that the federal executive branch lacks the power to unilaterally grant unlawfully present aliens lawful presence and work authorization.”
He continued, “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."
Paxton had previously threatened to sue the administration if DACA was not ended, the Texas Tribune reported.
Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia have also signed onto the suit, filed in the Southern District of Texas.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Thomas Homan are among those named as defendants in the suit, along with the U.S.
The DACA program was formed through executive action by former President Barack Obama in 2012 and allowed certain people who came to the U.S. illegally as minors to be protected from immediate deportation. Recipients are able to request “consideration of deferred action” for a period of two years, subject to renewal.
The Trump administration initially announced its intention to phase out the program in September 2017. But a lower court order required the administration to continue accepting renewal applications for those in the program, and the Supreme Court rejected the administration’s request to intervene.
On April 24, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates in Washington called the DHS' rationale against the program “arbitrary and capricious” and gave the Trump administration 90 days to make a new case.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.