Press release from the Office of the Attorney General of Connecticut: Attorney General William Tong has joined a coalition of 17 attorneys general from around the nation in continuing the fight against the Trump Administration’s efforts to eliminate DACA and threaten Dreamers with deportation.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the Trump Administration violated the law in attempting to cancel the DACA program, which grants Dreamers work permits and reprieve from deportation. But, instead of following the Court’s ruling, Chad Wolf, the acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a new memorandum on July 28 announcing that the Administration would no longer accept new DACA applications.
In a motion filed today, the coalition of attorneys general asks the federal district court to immediately vacate the Wolf memo. The coalition argues that the memo, like the initial Trump Administration attempt to rescind DACA, violates the Administrative Procedures Act and is unlawful since Wolf is not lawfully serving as acting secretary of Homeland Security.
“The Trump Administration’s attack on DACA has been flawed, cruel and completely unnecessary since day one. Thousands of Dreamers in Connecticut and across the nation have been left in a devastating limbo because of these vicious and unlawful attacks,” Attorney General Tong said. “The Trump Administration’s continued attempts to dismantle DACA is rooted in bad law and bungled procedure. I am working with attorneys general across the country to protect these young adults, many of whom were brought to our country as infants. We will not allow these xenophobic and racist policies to prevail in our nation.”
In 2012, the Obama Administration created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program, which granted legal work authorization and protection from deportation to young people who had been brought to this country at a young age. With legal work authorizations, Dreamers perform a wide variety of critical job functions, including as teachers, health care workers, and information technology specialists, among numerous other professions. Such work allows these DACA recipients to provide vital financial support to their families, and to enhance the economies of their local communities — contributing approximately $8.7 billion each year in federal, state, and local taxes across the country. In Connecticut, DACA recipients contribute more than $300 million annually to the state’s economy.
After President Trump ordered his administration to rescind DACA , a prolonged legal battle began in September 2017 that made its way through multiple courts before landing at the U.S. Supreme Court in November 2019. This past June, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump Administration’s attempt to cancel the DACA program was arbitrary and capricious, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit also ruled against the Trump Administration, finding the rescission of DACA unlawful.Despite these rulings, Wolf has ordered DHS to reject all new initial DACA applications; to change the renewal period for current beneficiaries from two years to one year; and to reject all advance parole applications absent exceptional circumstances.
In today’s motion — filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson — the coalition argues that these orders fly in the face of both the Supreme Court and the Fourth Circuit’s earlier orders.
The coalition specifically argues that DHS’s new memo related to DACA once again violates the Administrative Procedure Act and that its issuance by Chad Wolf is a violation of both the Federal Vacancies Reform Act and the Homeland Security Act. The coalition seeks to have the July 28 memo vacated and to have the DACA program restored to where it stood before the September 2017 rescission, as the Supreme Court ordered in June.
Joining Attorneys General Tong, James, Healey, and Ferguson in filing this motion are the attorneys general of Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
This press release was produced by Office of the Attorney General of Connecticut. The views expressed here are the author’s own.