Several parties asked a federal judge in California Wednesday to block the Trump administration’s decision to scrap the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program while several lawsuits move forward.
If the request for a preliminary injunction is successful, the Obama-era DACA program would remain in effect after the current March 5 deadline, when the White House has slated to begin phasing it out. DACA allows undocumented immigrants ― so-called Dreamers ― who arrived in the country as youths to work legally and avoid deportation for a renewable two-year program.
“The government will not face any harm if a preliminary injunction is granted,” the filing reads. “There will be no harm — and much benefit — to the United States if [the Department of Homeland Security] continues to process new applications for DACA status and renewal applications pending a final judgment,” the filing states.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup has already written in prior orders that he aims to reach a ruling with plenty of time for appeal before the March 5 deadline. But a dispute over what documents the Trump administration should submit to the court to justify its decision to end DACA has threatened to slow the proceedings.
The injunction request was filed in the Northern District of California, where several lawsuits seeking to overturn the cancellation of DACA have been consolidated into one.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuits against the Trump administration include former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who helped create the DACA program, as well as Democratic California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the city of San Jose, the county of Santa Clara and a group of DACA recipients. Some 200,000 Dreamers live in California, which is home to the country’s largest population of undocumented immigrants.
“The Rescission already is causing catastrophic and irreparable harm to DACA recipients, as the threat of deportation — to countries where they have not lived since they were children — forces them to make wrenching choices whether to leave their schools, jobs, and even their U.S. citizen children and other family members,” Wednesday’s filing reads.
The lawsuits argue that the Trump administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act and the due process rights of DACA recipients by abruptly announcing on Sept. 5 its decision to phase out the program. A group of 10 states led by Texas had threatened to try to overturn the DACA program in court if the White House didn’t nix it.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a Republican who has long contended that DACA amounted to an unconstitutional abuse of executive authority, said the program would likely be halted by the courts if Texas and its allies were to sue. The DACA program had hummed along without legal challenge for five years.
“America is and has been home to the Dreamers who courageously came forward and applied for DACA,” Becerra said in a statement. “They have done everything our government has asked of them. They followed the rules directed by DACA, they succeeded in school, at work and in business, and they have contributed in building a better America.”
Separate federal lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s dismantling of DACA on similar grounds were filed in the state of New York.
This article has been updated to include Becerra’s statement.