State Watch

Dems threaten to sue Trump over DACA

Democratic attorneys general across the country have threatened to sue President Trump over his decision Tuesday to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, opening another front in the growing legal war between blue states and the Republican administration.

In public statements and letters to the Trump administration, 20 attorneys general urged Trump not to follow through on threats to end the five-year-old program, which allows those brought into the country illegally as children to work and live free of the threat of deportation.

"Ending DACA is un-American, and it's going to threaten the health and safety of many individuals," New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas (D) told The Hill. "Various attorneys general from across the country are preparing to defend DACA recipients. The Constitution applies [to them] as well in terms of equal protection and due process."

There are an estimated 800,000 people covered by the DACA program, first implemented by the Obama administration in June 2012. Seven thousand of those live in New Mexico, Balderas said.

The top legal officers in three states - California, New York and Washington - pledged to take legal action against the Trump administration to defend the program.

"President Trump has turned his back on hundreds of thousands of children and young Americans who came forward and put their trust in government," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) said Tuesday. "But in terminating DACA, the Trump administration has also violated the Constitution and federal law."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) also said they would take legal action. Cuomo's administration has funded the Liberty Defense Project, a program to provide legal representation to undocumented immigrants.

"President Trump's decision to end the DACA program would be cruel, gratuitous and devastating to tens of thousands of New Yorkers, and I will sue to protect them," Schneiderman said before the administration made its decision public.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) said his office would file suit to stop what he called a "cruel and illegal policy."

Trump's decision Tuesday came after 10 Republican attorneys general threatened to sue the administration to halt the DACA program. The Republicans, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and top legal officials from Louisiana, Alabama, Nebraska, Arkansas, South Carolina, Idaho, Tennessee, West Virginia and Kansas, gave the administration until Tuesday to rescind the DACA program.

Those Republicans said they would amend a lawsuit filed in the Southern District of Texas that successfully challenged another Obama administration initiative, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans - or DAPA - program.

A federal judge placed a temporary injunction on the DAPA program in 2015 while the lawsuit proceeded. In June, the Trump administration announced it would not implement the program.

The Democratic threats of legal action are the latest in a wave of lawsuits filed by blue state legal officers meant to challenge the Trump administration. Several states filed suit to halt a proposed ban on travel from six majority Muslim nations, blocking one of the Trump administration's first actions after taking office.

Democrats are contemplating legal action to halt the administration's decision to halt the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era environmental rule meant to limit greenhouse emissions. And attorneys general from states where marijuana is legal have promised to sue if the Justice Department begins cracking down on drug enforcement.