Representatives from 22 states and Washington, D.C., filed a brief in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to defend a policy that grants legal status to illegal immigrants who came to the United States at a young age.
The brief argued in favor of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, which a district court judge ruled was unconstitutionally implemented in July.
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“All across the country, Dreamers are an integral part of our communities,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who joined the brief, said in a statement. “They are nurses, lawyers, students, and our neighbors. They are on the front lines of this pandemic and we rely on their contributions every day."
The petitioners argued in the brief that DACA being overturned would upend nearly a decadelong policy that was important to their respective states.
They said they rely on DACA workers to staff healthcare operations and generate tax revenue. They also expressed concerns that if DACA went away, DACA recipients would be less likely to report crime due to fears of deportation.
The legal dispute dates back to 2012 when then-President Barack Obama signed an executive order implementing the policy. After former President Donald Trump took office in 2017, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and several other state prosecutors encouraged the Trump administration to end DACA. A similar coalition subsequently issued a legal challenge.
After a string of legal litigation, Judge Andrew Hanen ruled in July that DACA was illegally implemented. The judge blocked the Biden administration from granting new applications but did not require prior DACA program recipients to lose their status.
In September, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund announced an appeal. The brief filed by the coalition of states is supporting the petition for reversing the previous court decision.
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The states that joined the brief include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.