Attorney General Racine Joins Lawsuit to Protect Dreamers

Nearly 800 DACA Grantees in District Jeopardized by Trump Administration’s Decision to End DACA

WASHINGTON, D. C. – Today, Attorney General Karl A. Racine joined a coalition of 16 Attorneys General in filing suit to protect grantees of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), a program that allows so-called “Dreamers” (Young undocumented immigrants eligible for DACA) to stay in the United States. The lawsuit, which was filed this afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, details how the Trump administration has violated the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution by discriminating against Dreamers of Mexican origin, who make up 78 percent of DACA recipients; violated Due Process rights; and harmed States’ residents, institutions, and economies.

“Sending these Dreamers—including nearly 800 District residents—back to countries they do not know is cruel and will rip District families apart,” said Attorney General Racine. “These young people came to the United States through no fault of their own. They attend our schools, universities, and colleges; they work hard and make invaluable contributions in their workplaces and in our community. Along with my fellow attorneys general, I will stand by these hard-working young people to ensure they are treated fairly and feel safe in the only place they’ve ever known as home.”

The District of Columbia is home to nearly 800 DACA grantees, and there are approximately 800,000 total DACA recipients across the country. According to the Center for American Progress, 97 percent of DACA grantees are employed or go to school; they pay $2.7 million annually in state and local taxes in the District, as the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy has detailed.

Today’s lawsuit also includes a number of declarations from businesses, academic institutions, local governments, DACA grantees, and others impacted by the Trump administration’s decision.

As the lawsuit states,

“Since 2012, DACA has allowed hundreds of thousands of young people to live, study, and work in the United States, and to become stable and even more productive members of their communities, without fear that they could be arrested and placed in deportation proceedings at any moment. Throughout the country, DACA grantees are employed by various companies and State and municipal agencies, which benefit from their skills and productivity. DACA grantees also contribute significantly to State and local revenues and tax bases. Yet, as a result of the DHS Memorandum, approximately 1,400 DACA grantees will lose their work authorization and risk termination of employment each day as their terms begin to expire. DACA recipients will lose their eligibility for public and employer-based health insurance programs that reduce the States’ health expenditures and promote public health. They also will lose their right to enroll in higher education institutions with in-state admissions preferences and tuition; thus, public universities will be deprived of a means by which they enrich the experience of all students and faculty through diversity and new perspectives.

“…More than 78 percent of DACA grantees are of Mexican origin, which is more than double the percentage of people of Mexican origin that comprise of the overall foreign-born population (29 percent) of the United States. 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 consequence of the President’s animus-driven decision is that approximately 800,000 persons who have availed themselves of the program will ultimately lose its protections, and will be exposed to removal when their authorizations expire and they cannot seek renewal. 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.

“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.”

In addition to the District, and led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, the lawsuit was filed by attorneys general from Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.