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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 Alexander and Bob Corker, 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. 

{mosads}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 Kelly, said they didn’t believe DACA would survive a lawsuit, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions 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 Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (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 Ryan (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.

Tags Bob Corker Dick Durbin Jeff Sessions John Kelly Lamar Alexander Lindsey Graham Paul Ryan

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