WASHINGTON, D. C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine Attorney General today joined California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and 18 other state attorneys general in a letter to President Trump urging him to maintain and defend a program, enacted under President Obama, that provides lawful temporary residency for young undocumented immigrants. In the letter, the attorneys general explain how the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has benefited the District and the rest of the country. The attorneys general also call on Trump to fulfill his public commitment to the so-called “Dreamers” (DACA-eligible young people) to allow them to stay in the United States.
“DACA has helped District residents and hundreds of thousands of other hard-working, law-abiding young people across our nation stay here and fully contribute their many talents to our communities and our economy,” Attorney General Racine said. “President Trump has expressed sympathy with these deserving young people; we are simply asking him to maintain his stated commitment to them rather than giving in to demands that they be kicked out of the country.”
Since 2012, when President Obama’s administration began implementing DACA, nearly 800,000 young people who were brought to the United States as children have been granted temporary residency under the program. The status is only granted after the students complete extensive applications, pass a background check, and apply for a work permit.
“Mr. President, now is the time to affirm the commitment you made, both to the ‘incredible kids’ who benefit from DACA and to their families and communities, to handle this issue ‘with heart.’ You said Dreamers should ‘rest easy.’ We urge you to affirm America’s values and tradition as a nation of immigrants and make clear that you will not only continue DACA, but that you will defend it,” wrote the attorneys general. “The cost of not doing so would be too high for America, the economy, and for these young people. For these reasons, we urge you to maintain and defend DACA, and we stand in support of the effort to defend DACA by all appropriate means.”
The letter refutes arguments set forth by those opposing DACA and threatening litigation, saying they are “wrong as a matter of law and policy,” and urges the president not to “capitulate” to their demands.
“DACA is consistent with a long pattern of presidential exercises of prosecutorial discretion,” the attorneys general wrote. “DACA sensibly guides immigration officials’ exercise of their enforcement discretion and reserves limited resources to address individuals who threaten our communities, not those who contribute greatly to them. Challenges have been brought against the original DACA program, including in the Fifth Circuit, but none have succeeded.”
Joining Attorneys General Racine and Becerra in sending the letter are attorneys general from: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington state. A copy of the letter is attached.