New York’s Democratic attorney general led a coalition of 15 states and the District of Columbia on Wednesday in suing the Trump administration to block the planned reversal of the Obama-era program shielding young illegal immigrants from deportation.
The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of New York.
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who is often at odds with President Trump, issued a statement calling the president’s plan to end the program known as DACA “cruel, inhumane, and devastating” to those “who have been able to come out of the shadows and live a full life as a result of the program.”
The Obama administration, via executive action, had launched the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2012, giving work permits and a deportation reprieve to some illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. when they were young. Facing the threat of legal action from Republican attorneys general opposed to the program, the Trump administration announced Tuesday it would end DACA – while giving Congress six months to come up with a legislative alternative.
Since that announcement, Trump has given mixed signals.
He tweeted overnight that he would revisit the issue if Congress fails to act. Meeting with congressional leaders from both parties, Trump then said Wednesday he has no regrets about his decision to end the program.
“No second thoughts,” he said.
The administration argues then-President Barack Obama didn’t have the authority to enact the DACA policy in 2012.
The plaintiffs in Wednesday’s suit were New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
Those already enrolled in DACA remain covered until their permits expire. If their permits expire before March, 5, 2018, they are eligible to renew them for another two years as long as they apply by Oct. 5. But the program isn't accepting new applications.
Opponents of the program said they are pleased with the Trump administration's decision. They called DACA an unconstitutional abuse of executive power but proponents of the program said the move by Trump was cruel.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the action violates the due process rights of the immigrants. He said he fears the information the immigrants provided the government to participate in DACA could be used against them.
"It's outrageous, it's not right," Ferguson said at a news conference in Seattle. "As attorney general for the state of Washington, I have a hammer, it's the law."
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee joined Ferguson at the news conference and said "this is one more of a long train of abuses that this president has attempted to foist on this great nation."
Earlier this year, Ferguson sued Trump over his travel ban, which resulted in a federal judge blocking nationwide enforcement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.