The immigrant advocacy organization CASA de Maryland along with eight other groups and more than a dozen individuals announced on the afternoon of Oct. 5 they are suing the federal government over the elimination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has given work status to undocumented immigrants who came to the Unitized States as minors, known as “dreamers.”
Named in the lawsuit are President Donald Trump, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and four government agencies — U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection — and their department heads.
A legal team that includes Arnold & Porter LLP, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, and the Civil Rights Clinic of the Howard University School of Law is joining them in the legal action.
“Our suit seeks to reinstate the DACA program, which was ended in an inhumane and arbitrary manner without following legally required procedures and is one more manifestation of the racist tactics this administration has implemented to target, dehumanize and deport immigrants, especially immigrants from Latin America,” said CASA’s Executive Director Gustavo Torres in the Thursday press conference broadcast over Facebook Live. “We also seek to hold the federal government to its promise that the information Dreamers submitted on the DACA applications will be kept private and not used for immigration enforcement against them or their families.”
Congressional Democrats have called for a path to citizenship for all Dreamers, a group estimated at more than 1.5 million. A White House aide said Sunday night the administration is “not interested in granting a path to citizenship” in a deal to preserve the DACA program, according to reporting by The Washington Post.
CASA is headquartered in Langley Park to “create a more just society by building power and improving the quality of life in low-income immigrant communities,” according to its mission statement.
The lawsuit was filed on the deadline for the last DACA renewal application to be received by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Representatives from the White House, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection could not be reached for comment as of the writing of this article.
“I am more committed than ever to be part of this lawsuit,” said Misa Garcia, a Mexican “Dreamer” protected under DACA who also spoke at the press conference.
After coming to this country at 12 years old, he is now a new father, and it is more important than ever for him to keep his work permit, Garcia said.
“My baby girl is depending on me to provide for her,” he said.
CASA’s lawsuit argues that the government did not follow proper procedures in ending the program and was instead motivated by an unconstitutional racial animus against Mexican and Central American DACA beneficiaries. The suit seeks to reinstate DACA and protect the privacy of individuals who were induced to submit sensitive personal information to immigration officials when they applied.
Despite repeated assurances that their information would not be shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the administration is now backing away from those assurances, creating widespread fear in the Dreamers community, according to CASA.
“The DACA program asked these young people – who came to the country with no intent to violate the immigration laws – to trust the government with highly sensitive personal information. It would be unconstitutional, as well as unconscionable, for the government to betray that trust,” added John A. Freedman, a partner with Arnold & Porter, at the press conference.
Sessions announced the government’s intentions to eliminate DACA protections in September, calling it an unconstitutional exercise of power by the previous administration.
“If we are to further our goal of strengthening the constitutional order and the rule of law in America, the Department of Justice cannot defend this type of overreach,” Sessions said.
The president has said he would like a better alternative to DACA.
The Trump administration released a list of strict immigration principles late Sunday that threaten to derail a possible deal with Democrats to save DACA.
The list that was released would also represent a major tightening of immigration laws. Cuts to legal immigration were also added.
In a conference call with reporters from The Associated Press, White House aides described the proposals as necessary to protect public safety and jobs for American-born workers. The Trump administration has taken steps to tighten border security through executive orders, with measures such as cuts on immigration and refugees from some majority-Muslim nations and increasing deportations.
The number of immigrants who have attempted to enter the country illegally across the Mexican border has decreased sharply since the Trump inauguration last February.