Fifteen states and the District of Columbia sued the U.S. government Wednesday to block President Donald Trump’s plan to end protection against deportation for young immigrants, saying it was motivated by prejudice against Mexicans.
Legal experts, however, say the evidence of bias is not strong in the case involving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.
“It might be able to muck up the works, maybe push off the effective date of the repeal, but I don’t see litigation being successful in the same way as the travel ban,” Kari Hong, an immigration expert at Boston College Law School, said, referring to the lawsuit earlier this year that limited the Trump ban involving predominantly Muslim nations.
As indications of Trump’s bias, the suit cited his previous statement referring to some Mexican immigrants as rapists and his decision to pardon former Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of contempt for ignoring a federal court order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.
“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 filed in federal court in Brooklyn said.
In its fight against the travel ban, Hawaii argued that it was illegally motivated by religious discrimination against Muslims and used statements Trump made as a candidate to support that claim.
A federal judge agreed and blocked the ban, though the U.S. Supreme Court later allowed a version to move forward.
The attorneys general who brought the DACA lawsuit — all Democrats — represent states where the population of DACA participants ranges from hundreds to tens of thousands. Known as “dreamers,” they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children or came with families who overstayed visas.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
California, one of the most solid Democratic states, was noticeably absent. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra plans to file a separate lawsuit.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday the program will end in six months so Congress can have time to find a legislative solution for people in the program.
Opponents of the program called DACA an unconstitutional abuse of executive power.
Supporters of the DACA program disagreed.
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said Trump’s plan is “cruel, shortsighted, inhumane” and driven by a personal bias against Mexicans and Latinos.
He said the 42,000 New Yorkers with protected status under the program are largely model citizens.
“They are the best of America,” Schneiderman said. “Dreamers play by the rules. Dreamers work hard. Dreamers pay taxes.”