A group of Democratic lawmakers wrote to President Trump Tuesday, calling on him to maintain and protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amid intense speculation over how Trump will handle the Obama-era program.
“On June 29, the Texas Attorney General, along with nine other attorney generals, in an attempt to usurp your authority, delivered to you an ultimatum threatening a legal challenge to DACA unless you ended the program by September 5, 2017,” reads the letter, penned by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.).
“We urge you to respond to Texas’s threat to your executive authority by directing the Attorney General to use all legal options to defend DACA and ensure that nearly one million DREAMers continue to contribute to our nation.”
Under the program, more than 750,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children received a work permit and protection from potential deportation.
Its opponents say the program is illegal because it was put in place through an executive order signed by President Obama instead of through legislation.
The letter, signed by 155 Democrats, asks Trump to keep the program in place and to instruct the Department of Justice to defend it from legal challenges.
In June, Trump extended the program for an indeterminate amount of time in a memo that also ended an expanded version of DACA and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program.
Those programs had been blocked by courts, so their termination had no immediate effect on any immigrants.
But members of the administration, notably new chief of staff and former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, said DACA was on shaky constitutional ground and unlikely to survive a court challenge.
The Department of Justice has declined to say whether it will defend the program. In their letter, Democrats doubled down on their often-stated mistrust of the attorney general, an immigration hard-liner.
“We are concerned that Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPress: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Those predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold MORE, who has historically opposed DACA, is now trying to abrogate your authority and set the Administration’s immigration policies, when, ultimately, you hold that authority,” read the letter.
The letter also claims there are economic arguments to sustain DACA.
“Ending DACA would increase the nation’s undocumented population, profoundly and negatively impact our nation’s economy, contracting the nation’s GDP by $ 460.3 billion,” it reads, adding that ending the program would also reduce contributions to Social Security and Medicare by $24.6 billion over a decade, and cost businesses $3.4 billion in unnecessary turnover costs.