Tennessee pulls out of multistate DACA challenge

Tennessee pulls out of multistate DACA challenge
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The attorney general of Tennessee Friday announced that the state would pull out of the 10-state coalition that had threatened to challenge the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in courts.

In a letter to Tennessee's two GOP senators, Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Abortion rights group plans M campaign to flip the House Senate health committee to hold hearing on Trump drug pricing plan Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — VA reform bill heads to Trump's desk MORE and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerFreed American 'overwhelmed with gratitude' after being released from Venezuela Former US prisoner Josh Holt returns from Venezuela Hatch, Trump say American held in Venezuela returning to US MORE, Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III (R) said, "At this time, our office has decided not to challenge DACA in the litigation, because we believe there is a better approach."

That leaves Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia in the coalition led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R).

In June, Paxton led that group in a letter that demanded President Trump rescind DACA by Sept. 5, or the states would file a lawsuit against its legality. 

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Under pressure from that deadline, Trump plans to announce his decision whether to defend or rescind the program on Tuesday.

Several administration officials, including White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, said they didn't believe DACA would survive a lawsuit, and Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsKamala Harris: Trump should send officials to testify on immigration policy separating migrant families Trump blames Democrats for separating migrant families at the border Dem lawmaker to Melania: Your husband separating immigrant children from their parents is not a 'Be Best' policy  MORE declined to say whether he would mount a defense in court. 

A similar lawsuit by 26 states against Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), DACA's sister program, successfully obtained an injunction against DAPA in a case that ultimately ended in a 4-4 Supreme Court tie, effectively killing that program.

"We have every reason to believe the states' legal challenge to the DACA program would yield a similar outcome. It suffers from the same constitutional infirmities," wrote Slatery on Friday.

"There is a human element to this, however, that is not lost on me and should not be ignored," he added.

Slatery told Alexander and Corker that in light of DACA recipients' "outstanding accomplishments and laudable ambitions," his office now favors a legislative solution.

Several proposals have been filed in both houses of Congress to permanently enshrine in legislation DACA benefits, including a renewed version of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, first presented by Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamRetired English teacher corrects letter from Trump and sends it back to White House Graham: Trump 'probably' shouldn't call use of FBI informant 'spygate' Graham on canceled summit: Trump thought North Korea was ‘playing him’ MORE (R-S.C.) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinTrump has exposed Democratic hypocrisy on prison reform House easily passes prison reform bill backed by Trump This week: House GOP regroups after farm bill failure MORE (D-Ill.).

"Whether this particular legislation is a viable solution is a matter for congressional debate," said Slatery. "It is not a comprehensive answer to our immigration policy challenges, but it would be a very good start."

Tennessee's change of heart comes as Trump weighs pressure from his base against a growing number of voices supportive of the fundamentals of DACA, if not necessarily its legality.

Democrats and some Republicans, like Graham, had long spoken in favor of DACA and its beneficiaries.

They were joined by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRepublicans are strongly positioned to win Congress in November Don't let them fool you — Republicans love regulation, too Senate harassment bill runs into opposition from House MORE (R-Wis.) Friday, who said Trump should leave DACA in place and allow Congress to legislate on the matter, while arguing that President Obama exceeded his powers in installing it in the first place.