Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring today joined 15 other state attorneys general to defend DREAMers from President Trump’s termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a move that he said would harm Virginia’s businesses and economy, schools, and public safety efforts, all while threatening to tear families apart and send young people back to unfamiliar foreign countries.
Herring and 19 fellow state attorneys general previously wrote President Trump encouraging him to maintain the DACA program and volunteering to help him defend it in court, if necessary. Now, Herring and his fellow state attorneys general intend to challenge the President’s actions in court in a lawsuit that alleges termination of the program violates Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fifth Amendment and regulatory laws that govern federal policy making.
“More than 12,000 DREAMers are living, learning, and working in Virginia today,” said Herring. “I’ve had the privilege to meet and get to know many of these young people. They come from many countries and backgrounds. They have jobs, families, and academic careers. They work, learn, play sports, and worship alongside us and our kids. They are valued members of their companies, schools, and communities.
“Simply put, there is no upside to ending DACA, only downside. It will hurt Virginia’s economy and make our communities less safe. It will needlessly tear families apart, burden social services, and turn our back on promising, talented young people who want our country to success. I’m hopeful that Congress will do the right thing and fix this problem right away, but if they do not, we’ll be ready to defend Virginia DREAMers in court,” Herring said.
McAuliffe on board
Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he supported Herring’s action.
“The roughly 12,000 DREAMers in the Commonwealth are more than just residents – they are friends, neighbors, employees, classmates, and they are Virginians,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “I wholeheartedly support Attorney General Herring joining the multi-state suit to protect the children of immigrants from President Trump’s cynical decision to rescind DACA. My administration will use every tool at our disposal to prevent these actions from harming Virginia families, our community, or our economy.”
Virginia and the other 15 states have filed suit in the Eastern District of New York challenging President Trump’s decision to terminate DACA. The states allege:
- Violations of the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection guarantee
- Violations of the Fifth Amendment’s due process guarantee based on the use of personal information submitted during the DACA process to facilitate deportation
- Violations of the Administrative Procedure Act and Regulatory Flexibility Act
The states seek, among other forms of relief:
- A declaration from the court that President Trump’s rescinding of DACA is unlawful
- An injunction preventing rescinding of DACA
- An injunction preventing the Trump administration from using DACA application information to facilitate deportation.
States filing today’s complaint are Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
12,000 DACA recipients in Virginia
Recipients of DACA, often called DREAMers, are young people who were brought to the United States at an early age without proper immigration documentation. In order to receive DACA status, a young person must come forward and apply for deferred action. To qualify, the applicant must have been brought to the United States at a young age, continually resided in the United States for the last ten years, be in school or the military, and have a clean criminal record.
More than 12,000 young people in Virginia have been approved for DACA according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. These young people are now in school or working in Virginia and it is estimated that removing them from the workforce would cost Virginia more than $711 million in annual GDP losses.
Nationwide, nearly 800,000 young people have been approved for DACA.