On Wednesday, 15 states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against President Trump over DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), claiming that his decision to end the program was motivated by discrimination. The lawsuit argues that Trump’s past negative comments about Mexicans must be taken into account, given that most DACA recipients are from Mexico. CNN writes:
“As President Trump’s statements about Mexico and those with Mexican roots show, the President has demonstrated a willingness to disparage Mexicans in a misguided attempt to secure support from his constituency, even when such impulses are impermissible motives for directing governmental policy,” the attorneys general wrote.
The argument could bear significant weight. Trump made a plethora of comments against Mexican immigrants during the presidential campaign, saying in 2015, “They are not our friend, believe me. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Trump also notoriously boasted that he would force Mexico to pay for a wall along the Mexican-American border.
Nevertheless, the case may have a long road ahead, because the president has the authority to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” when it comes to the enforcement of immigration laws. “I wouldn’t say it’s a long shot, [but] I would say it is challenging, just because of the tradition against reviewing prosecutorial discretion,” Stephen Legomsk, a Washington University law professor and an Obama administration alum, told CNN.
Cornell law professor and immigration attorney Steve Yale-Loehr said that “given the general deference that most courts provide to executive branch decisions on immigration, because immigration touches on national security and national sovereignty issues, they’re going to have an uphill battle in court. I wish them well, but as far as I can tell, I think they’ve got a less than 50% chance of winning in court.”
City and state lawsuits against the Trump administration have seen some success, and state attorneys general have emphasized that the immigration issue is important on a state level. CNN writes:
“Immigration is the lifeblood of New York State,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “The Trump administration’s decision to end DACA is cruel, inhumane, and devastating to the 42,000 New Yorkers who have been able to come out of the shadows and live a full life as a result of the program.”
“I filed suit against President Trump and his administration to protect DACA because Dreamers are just as American as first lady Melania Trump,” New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a statement.
Along with the District of Columbia, the states filing the lawsuit include New Mexico, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he is preparing his own lawsuit against the Trump administration, while he explores legislative options to shield undocumented immigrants in California from deportation. “We believe the Trump administration has violated the Constitution, federal law, and certainly we believe wholeheartedly the Trump administration has ignored the American people,” Becerra said at a news conference in Sacramento.
Amazon and Microsoft also released statements of solidarity with the states behind the suits:
When Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday announced the ending of DACA, he said the action was partially because Obama’s implementation of the policy was “unconstitutional,” a claim quickly debunked by legal experts. The Department of Justice continues to stand by its position.