Sixteen state attorneys general led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on Wednesday charging that President Trump violated the Constitution by rescinding President Obama’s directive on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Since 78 percent of DACA beneficiaries are of Mexican origin and 93 percent are Latino, the AGs argue, the Trump administration engaged in targeted discrimination violating the equal protection and due process clauses.
“Ending DACA, whose participants are mostly of Mexican origin, is a culmination of President’s Trump’s oft-stated commitments—whether personally held, stated to appease some portion of his constituency, or some combination thereof—to punish and disparage people with Mexican roots,” the lawsuit states.
Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia have joined New York in the lawsuit. Nearly 42,000 of some 800,000 DACA beneficiaries live in N.Y.
“This cruel move to rescind DACA feeds the beast of bigotry and undermines the values that built this state and this nation,” N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “Ending this policy will upend the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people who have only ever called America their home. This action is antithetical to everything we believe as New Yorkers and we cannot sit on the sidelines and watch the lives of these young people ruined. As we made clear before this decision, New York will sue to protect the ‘dreamers’ and the state’s sovereign interest in the fair and equal application of the law.”
The 58-page lawsuit against Trump, the Department of Homeland Security, Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement argues that “the individuals who have relied on DACA are now more vulnerable to removal than before the program was initiated, as they turned over sensitive information to the federal government in their applications.”
“Despite the federal government’s repeated promises that it would not use such information to conduct enforcement measures, the Memorandum does not explain how the government will keep that information secure, nor does it provide any assurances that immigration enforcement agents will not use such information to find and remove those who applied for DACA,” it states.
“Rescinding DACA will cause harm to hundreds of thousands of the States’ residents, injure State-run colleges and universities, upset the States’ workplaces, damage the States’ economies, hurt State-based companies, and disrupt the States’ statutory and regulatory interests.”
Schneiderman told MSNBC on Wednesday that “it’s very straightforward as a matter of constitutional law, that you cannot enact a government policy if one of the major factors — it doesn’t have to be the only factor — is discriminatory animus and if it has a disparate impact on a protected group.”
“You can’t get in DACA unless your nose is clean. You don’t have a criminal record. You have to meet the educational requirements,” he noted. “This is the last group of people we should be thinking about deporting. And for them to turn on them, after promising them repeatedly they’d be taken care of, and that any information they provided would not be used in immigration proceedings. To reverse all of that is just so fundamentally unfair that I think my colleagues just very quickly, as soon as they issued the order yesterday, we were on the phone together and we came together very, very quickly. That’s happened on a couple of occasions since the president took over.”