We commend Connecticut’s Attorney General George Jepsen for swiftly joining a lawsuit to help Dreamers. The suit was brought by a coalition of attorneys general from 15 states and the District of Columbia. On Sept. 5, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a memorandum ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. On Sept. 6, the 16 attorneys general filed suit against the president of the United States and DHS seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to stop implementation of the DHS memorandum. This swift and decisive filing, which details the great harm the loss of DACA will cause both the states and the dreamers, is laudatory and impressive.
Jepsen summed up the issue: “We cannot stand idly by while this administration needlessly and cruelly threatens the futures of more than 10,000 Connecticut residents. These Dreamers are valued members of our social fabric and economy. They are our friends and neighbors, employers and employees, and students working to better themselves and their communities.”
The complaint was filed in the Eastern District of New York and catalogs the harms which will flow from the abrogation of DACA. These harms include the loss of income and other taxes currently paid by Dreamers, the loss of many startup small businesses launched by Dreamers, and the loss of students at colleges and universities. Massachusetts points out that more than 50 of their gifted Dreamers currently attend Harvard. These are just some of the harms listed from the states’ perspective. From the Dreamers’ perspective, the complaint invokes a demand for fairness, and does not list all the potential harms to individual Dreamers. Since this is a suit brought by the states, this approach is appropriate.
The president has promised on more than one occasion that his plan will make Dreamers “very happy.” Many have relied on his repeated assurances to them in applying for the program and in disclosing the required personal information. All applicants were told that, absent fraud, their information would not be used against them in any deportation proceedings. Absent any current indication otherwise, they are now rightly concerned that this promise is about to be broken.
The suit contains a compelling legal argument that the DACA program is really an exercise of prosecutorial discretion by DHS immigration prosecutors. The program allows a deferral of deportation once certain conditions are met. It is an agreement between the prosecutor acting as an agent of the U.S. government and the Dreamer and should be honored like any other agreement made by a prosecutor. Prosecutors in state court can’t arbitrarily back out of a deal, and it is fundamentally unfair to let this happen in a federal forum.
Jepsen has championed the argument that Dreamers deserve fairness. He has stood tall and firm in support of Connecticut’s Dreamers and we are compelled by a sense of basic fairness to join him in saying:
“We believe that President Trump has acted unlawfully in stripping DACA protection from those who have followed the rules laid out for them and structured their lives in reliance on the protections they were promised.”