Seven States Sue to End DACA
Since November of 2016, many Dreamers — individuals brought to the United States as babies or children and who now live, work and go to school as Americans — have lived in a state of fear. Donald Trump ran his campaign largely based upon xenophobia and a platform of getting “tough” on immigration and since the election, the Trump administration has worked tirelessly to tear apart families and take every opportunity from people whose only crime was being brought to the U.S. as innocent babies or young children.
One of Trump’s first acts as president was to issue an executive order bringing an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act enacted by former President Barack Obama. Under DACA, illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children can obtain a permit allowing them to work, attend school and even serve in the U.S. military. The permits last for two years and are renewable as long as the recipients have committed no crimes.
While Trump did give Congress a six-month window for drafting and passing legislation that would save the DACA program in spirit, his insistence that any legislation dealing with immigration include funding for his border wall has stymied lawmakers from designing a legislative solution to the issue. In the meantime, Dreamers live with ever-increasing anxiety. Many have even developed physical illnesses as a result of all the undue stress.
Now, to further muddy the waters of U.S. immigration policy, Texas, along with six other states, have joined together to sue to end DACA altogether. This development promises to catapult the immigration debate once more into the limelight and may well lead all the way to the Supreme Court.
Texas and the Southern States previous judicial rulings regarding DACA have fortunately come down firmly on the side of Dreamers. The most recent ruling in federal court in Washington, DC ruled that DACA recipients who had not been convicted of committing any crimes were being unfairly targeted. The case marked the third lawsuit requiring that the federal government continue to give permits to Dreamers despite Trump’s order that no new permits be issued.
However, the case recently filed in Texas by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton seeks to deny permits to Dreamers once again. Paxton asserts that the original executive order issued by President Obama creating DACA was an unconstitutional abuse of executive power meant to subvert the will of the people. Paxton also points to “activist judges” who insist upon tying the hands of the government by forcing them to continue to issue permits.
Joining the State of Texas in the lawsuit are West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska and South Carolina. The case has been assigned to Texas District Judge Andrew Hannon. Hannon opposed a 2014 measure to extend DACA protections to parents of Dreamers.
Because three other courts in other districts have already ruled to extend DACA protections, should Texas prevail in denying further permits to Dreamers, a Constitutional crisis could well ensue. The matter would become a matter of states’ rights versus federal law and would need to be settled by the Supreme Court. With the appointment of conservative Neil Gorsuch, Dreamers have a real reason to fear. Should the Supreme Court rule in favor of Texas, over 800,000 Dreamers, many of whom know no other country but the United States, could face immediate deportation.
Ironically enough, should the court side with Texas, the state stands to lose economically as Texas would lose over 100,000 workers should Dreamers be deported. This situation would have a devastating effect on the state GDP, especially in the agricultural sector. Additionally, it could drive up grocery prices, as the state would lose farm workers it could not easily replace. Employers in particular would be left scrambling to replace valuable employees at a moment’s notice.
The cruelty of threatening to deport otherwise hardworking, productive citizens to a country they have never known cannot be fathomed. Not only does the measure threaten Dreamers, but it also threatens family relationships, employer-employee relationships and much more.
That the Trump administration would act mercilessly is certain. Just this past March, the administration deported U.S. Army veteran Miguel Perez to Mexico. Perez had served the U.S. faithfully, doing two tours of duty in Afghanistan.
Should the case go to the Supreme Court, and should the court rule in favor of Texas and the other states, the only hope Dreamers would have would be if Congress were to pass legislation offering a path to legal citizenship to those brought here through no fault of their own. The time has come to put the pressure on U.S. Congress to pass true and humane immigration reform. America is a nation of immigrants — it’s well past time our immigration policy upheld and supported our legacy.