Attorneys general from Texas and nine other Republican-led states threatened Thursday to sue the Trump administration over a program that grants deportation relief and access to work permits to nearly 788,000 "Dreamers," or undocumented immigrants brought to the country at a young age.
In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the states urged the administration to rescind the June 2012 memorandum that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program during President Barack Obama’s first term.
The letter called on the federal government to phase DACA out gradually by ceasing to accept new enrollees or to renew existing applications — a decision that would leave many Dreamers vulnerable to deportation.
In 2014, Obama expanded the DACA program and created a separate deportation reprieve for parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. The DACA expansion would have shielded an estimated 3.6 million people from deportation. But it never took effect because Texas and 25 states sued the Obama administration and convinced the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to block its implementation. The Supreme Court deadlocked on the issue, leaving a preliminary injunction in place.
The states that successfully challenged the DACA expansion in court never challenged the original DACA program, which has continued under President Donald Trump. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has said that DACA enrollees aren’t being deported on his watch, but DHS said earlier this month that the program remains under review.
The letter, spearheaded by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, offers to drop litigation against broader deportation reprieves if Trump will withdraw the original DACA memo and end the program.
“Otherwise, the complaint in that case will be amended to challenge both the DACA program and the remaining Expanded DACA permits,” the letter reads.
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, a Republican, joined the 10 attorneys general in the request.