New York’s AG hopes to save DACA program by suing Trump Administration

Photo courtesy of the Attorney General’s Office

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is leading a multi-state lawsuit against the federal government after President Donald Trump’s move on Tuesday to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Schneiderman is suing for violation of due process rights and the equal protection clause, being that 78 percent of DACA beneficiaries are Mexican.

“That’s why we’re taking the Trump administration to court; to protect dreamers and the New York employers who rely on them,” Schneiderman said Wednesday “It’s clear that President Trump’s DACA repeal would cause huge economic harm to New York, and that it’s driven by President Trump’s personal anti-Mexican bias.”

The DACA program temporarily prevents the deportation of those who illegally entered the United States as children, allowing them to work under a renewable two-year permit.

DACA beneficiaries or “dreamers” are provided with work-related benefits that undocumented immigrants are not, such as work authorization, social security and unemployment. DACA grantees, who were often brought here illegally by their parents, are not permitted to vote or receive federal student aid, however they are allowed some state education benefits and the right to a criminal attorney.

The Schneiderman-led lawsuit, filed midday on Wednesday, September 6 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, states that Trump’s revocation of the DACA program will harm state residents, institutions and economies, and that it violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and the right to due process.

A total of 16 attorneys general joined in the lawsuit against Trump, which is championed by not only Schneiderman, but Maura Healey of Massachusetts and Bob Ferguson of Washington state. The 16 states waging the legal challenge are New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.

Schneiderman also has the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who made it clear during a press conference on Tuesday, just after Trump’s decision was announced.

“We have a federal government that is antithetical to everything we believe as New Yorkers. You stand up and fight this fight not because it’s easy but because it’s tough,” said Cuomo.

The equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution mandates that no government action should be intentionally discriminatory.

Legislative Gazette file photo

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio reiterated Cuomo’s characterization of New York values and the state’s consistent stance against prejudice and its many breeds.

“The Attorney General is empowered to advance New York’s strong and public policy against unlawful discrimination. New York’s Constitution guarantees all persons the right to equal treatment under the law and forbids discrimination based on race, color, creed or religion,” said Mayor de Blasio.

This reaction by progressive state leaders comes following the threat of a lawsuit that forced the Trump administration to act in the first place.

In June, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton led a 10-state coalition that threatened Trump with a lawsuit, claiming DACA’s installment by President Obama was unconstitutional.

Trump vowed to rescind the DACA program on September 5, the same day the Paxton-led coalition set as a deadline for its decision on whether or not to proceed with its lawsuit.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a lifelong immigration hardliner, said the Obama program was an irrational evasion of congressional process.

An estimated 42,000 New Yorkers are provided with educational and occupational opportunity because of the DACA program.

“DACA represented security and a chance to strive in this country that I love,” said Eduardo Garcia, a DACA grantee and John Jay College student. “I call the United States my country because it’s the only country I’ve ever known.”

The Schneiderman-led lawsuit says that DACA’s repeal will cause damage to state-run schools, workplaces and the economy. In New York state alone, a repeal of the program would eliminate $140 million in state and local taxes paid by DACA grantees.

Nationwide, DACA grantees pay an estimated $2 billion in state and local taxes each year, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute.

“We are ready to stand and work with [Schneiderman’s] office and other allies across the U.S. to protect our dreamers,” said Jose Calderon, president of the Hispanic Federation. “And uphold the values in which our nation was built on: justice, inclusion and democracy.”