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 AlexanderLamar AlexanderAuthorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate The Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain MORE and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her 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.
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 SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program 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 GrahamTrump offers sympathy for those charged with Jan. 6 offenses Lindsey Graham: Police need 'to take a firm line' with Sept. 18 rally attendees Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod MORE (R-S.C.) and Dick DurbinDick DurbinManchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Democrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema US gymnasts offer scathing assessment of FBI 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 RyanPaul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book Paul Ryan says it's 'really clear' Biden won election: 'It was not rigged. It was not stolen' Democrats fret over Trump-district retirements ahead of midterms 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.