Texas AG Paxton Files Seven-State Lawsuit Against Feds To End DACA

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued President Donald Trump’s administration on Tuesday in a bid to force the termination of a program that gives younger illegal immigrants a reprieve from deportation, saying the Obama-era amnesty is outside the scope of executive authority.

Six other states joined Paxton’s lawsuit challenging the constitutional muster of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Trump had intended to wind down DACA by March 5, but several federal court decisions have forced immigration authorities to continue issuing work permits under the program.

“Our lawsuit is about the rule of law, not the wisdom of any particular immigration policy,” Paxton said in a statement. “Texas has argued for years that the federal executive branch lacks the power to unilaterally grant unlawfully present aliens lawful presence and work authorization. Left intact, DACA sets a dangerous precedent by giving the executive branch sweeping authority to ignore the laws enacted by Congress and change our nation’s immigration laws to suit a president’s own policy preferences.”

Although the lawsuit names Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Thomas Homan as defendants, it is actually intended to assist the Trump administration’s case for ending DACA. It asks the District Court for the Southern District of Texas to declare DACA unlawful and block the government from issuing or renewing any DACA permits in the future.

Immigration authorities are continuing to issue DACA permits thanks to injunctions from two federal judges — one in San Francisco and one in Brooklyn — requiring the administration to keep the program going for previous recipients. Trump’s decision to end DACA was “arbitrary and capricious,” a third judge ruled on April 25 and gave the administration 90 days to craft a stronger rationale, or it will have to start processing first-time applications as well.

Trump has tried to do the right thing by rescinding DACA, but the judiciary has improperly thwarted him, Paxton said.

“Our frustration is not with this administration; it’s with three federal judges in various places of the country,” he told reporters Tuesday, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

Under Paxton, a Republican, the Texas attorney general’s office has been one of the nation’s strongest state-level proponents of Trump’s immigration enforcement agenda. In 2015, Paxton led a coalition of 26 states in a successful challenge to the Obama administration’s proposed expansion of DACA to older illegal immigrants. That lawsuit also succeeded in blocking a similar program — Deferred Action for Parents of Americans — that would have shielded up to 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation.

Under threat from another Texas-led lawsuit, the Trump administration announced in 2017 DACA would be phased out in favor of a legislative replacement. The administration’s plan for DACA held Texas and other states at bay, but the administration’s inability to kill the program prompted Tuesday’s filing, Paxton said.

The six other states participating in the Texas-led lawsuit are Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia.

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