Attorneys general from 10 states and Idaho's governor are threatening to sue the Trump administration if it does not stop granting or renewing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, by Sept. 5.
They made the threat in a letter sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions Wednesday. It was signed by attorneys general of Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho Louisiana, Kansas, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter also signed.
The attorneys general said if new DACA permits and renewals were ended by the deadline, they'd dismiss their lawsuit challenging programs former President Barack Obama tried to create with a 2015 executive action. The programs would have allowed millions more immigrants illegally here eligible to remain and to work.
"If by September 5, 2017, the Executive Branch agrees to ... not renew or issue any DACA or expanded DACA permits in the future, the the plaintiffs ... will voluntarily dismiss their lawsuit currently pending in the Southern District of Texas. Otherwise the complaint in that case will be amended to challenge both the DACA program and the remaining expanded DACA permits," the letter states.
But, Texas and 25 other states challenged Obama's executive action in a lawsuit against the federal government and court action kept them from going into effect. A trial on the constitutionality of Obama's action had not been held.
When Obama's term ended and President Donald Trump took over, the Trump administration became the defendant in the lawsuit. The administration said it would no longer defend the programs and rescinded a memo instituting them on June 15 because Trump did not support Obama's 2015 executive action.
Texas and the other state officials that signed the letter are refusing to follow suit and drop the challenge. State officials from several of the states in the lawsuit did not sign the letter.
Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said the organization "condemns in the strongest terms each of the state officials who joined in threatening the federal administration to repeal DACA."
He referred to their actions as "xenophobia" and "mean-spirited stupidity" and said the state officials who signed the letter have "etched their names in ignominy."
"MALDEF urges the president not to cave in to the toothless threat in today's Texas letter. Presidential authority does constitutionally extend to protecting DACA recipients, whom the president has repeatedly declared worthy of protection. We urge the president to fight to vindicate that authority," Saenz said.
Saenz said MALDEF, which intervened in the case, will move to dismiss it.