California, Minnesota, Maine and Maryland are the latest states to sue the Trump administration over its decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California in San Francisco Monday, alleges the Department of Homeland Security violated the Constitution and federal statutes in rescinding the DACA program, which allows children of undocumented immigrants to apply for and receive temporary deferment from deportation. The Trump administration rescinded the policy last week, citing concerns that President Barack Obama overstepped his constitutional authority by creating it in 2012.
“When the Trump administration rescinded DACA, they didn’t just threaten the futures of hundreds of thousands of young Americans,” Becerra said in a press conference. “… The Trump administration also broke the law.”
It’s the latest lawsuit over the DACA termination from Democratic state AGs. Another group, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, filed a lawsuit over the DACA decision last week in a New York federal court. That group includes 15 states and the District of Columbia.
The California lawsuit makes similar claims, but Becerra did not elaborate on why he and the other three states filed their challenge separately. One of the key differences between the two lawsuits is New York claims the DACA termination was fueled by racial animus toward Mexicans in violation of the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection and due process clauses. The California suit also alleges violations of the Fifth Amendment, but does not mention racial animus.
“We all agree that the Trump administration has violated not just the Constitution but federal laws,” Becerra said when asked about the differences.
He added that he worked closely with state AGs in the other group, but that “every state has a reason why it works a particular way in representing the people of [that] state.” A quarter of DACA recipients lives in California, and ending the policy will cause serious financial repercussions for the state, Becerra said.
The University of California also filed its own lawsuit last week, with the help of a team of lawyers from Covington & Burling. The same day as the DACA announcement, lawyers from the National Immigration Law Center also indicated they would sue.
The California suit alleges DHS violated the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause because the change in policy means the government can use information from DACA applications to identify and detain undocumented immigrants, which the lawsuit said is “fundamentally unfair.” The violation under the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection clause, the lawsuit said, is that the rescission deprives DACA grantees of their “substantial interests in pursuing a livelihood to support themselves and further their education.”
The lawsuit also claims the administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act because it didn’t have a lawful reason for rescinding the policy and failed to follow the notice-and-comment procedures required of agencies when they make certain actions. Another claim, under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, alleges the administration failed to analyze the economic repercussions of the rescission on small businesses and other entities.
Finally, the lawsuit makes a claim not yet mentioned in other suits: that the move violates the legal principle of equitable estoppel, which bars the government from enticing citizens to take action and then using that action against them. The lawsuit says that by inviting undocumented immigrants to apply for DACA, and then using that information to potentially deport them, the government is acting unfairly.
“We don’t bait and switch in this country,” Becerra said. “We don’t tell people one thing and then the next put them in harm’s way.”