A day after President Donald J. Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era executive action that shields young, undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” from deportation, a coalition of US Democratic attorneys general and others have renewed their legal assault on the move.
In an echo of the campaign against Trump’s effort this year to ban travelers from parts of the Muslim world, a group of 16 attorneys general — all Democrats — filed suit in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, New York on Wednesday claiming that Trump had improperly upended DACA, according to reports.
Led by Attorneys General Eric T. Schneiderman of New York, Maura Healey of Massachusetts and Bob Ferguson of Washington, they alleged that Trump’s shift was driven by racial animus toward Mexican Americans and that the Trump administration failed to follow US federal rules governing executive policy making, reported the New York Times.
Rather than making the announcement himself, Trump, uncharacteristically, on Tuesday dispatched US Attorney General Jeff Sessions to deliver the bad news to the nation and the world.
“The program, known as DACA, that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded,” Sessions told reporters, claiming that “the policy was implemented unilaterally, to great controversy and legal concern.”
Announcing the legal challenge Wednesday alongside a crowd of young immigrants and immigration advocates, Schneiderman accused the Trump administration of using the threat of lawsuits as a “pretext” that hid the president’s true motives: bias against immigrants and Latinos, the Times said.
The lawsuit said that “ending DACA, whose participants are mostly of Mexican origin, is a culmination of President Trump’s oft-stated commitments — whether personally held, stated to appease some portion of his constituency, or some combination thereof — to punish and disparage people with Mexican roots.”
Schneiderman said later on Wednesday: “We think the court will take a look at what’s behind the change in policy and conclude that the rationales offered yesterday don’t make any sense.”
Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California, a Democrat, intends to file a separate challenge to Trump’s plans, the Times said, adding that several major companies intend to join the lawsuits, and two, Microsoft and Amazon, have pledged to pay the legal expenses of any employees who become vulnerable to deportation.
Almost immediately after Tuesday’s the DACA announcement, Caribbean American legislators in the United States strongly condemned the decision.
“This reckless and cruel decision constitutes a vicious attack on hundreds of thousands of young women and men who want to attend college, find jobs, and participate in our civil society,” US Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, told Caribbean Life. “Their contributions – and the contributions of all immigrants – to this nation are enormous, and will only increase in the coming years.
“Donald Trump has chosen, however, to punish them, in a misguided effort to undermine the proud legacy of President Obama and to satisfy anti-immigrant white supremacists who are afraid of our modern, diverse nation,” added the representative for the predominantly Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn. “Throughout the history of the United States, there are decisions we have come to regret. I am certain that future generations will deeply regret this terrible decision as well.
“We, therefore, have a shared responsibility to resist this policy,” Clarke continued. “I urge my colleagues in Congress to enact legislation restoring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in a manner consistent with the best of our history and values.”
New York City Councilmember Jumaane Williams, the son of Jamaican immigrants, said that, “foremost, nothing this administration does should come as a surprise to people of goodwill.
“To formally rescind the DACA program and order the Dept. of Homeland Security to stop processing any new applications sends a continued message that some lives matter more than others in the eyes of this president,” said Williams, representative for the largely 45th Council District in Brooklyn. “We should not take these types of steps lightly. History teaches us that deportations and the threats of them have been used as a measure to dehumanize, ostracize and as prelude to legitimize horrors that followed.”
New York State Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, the daughter of St. Martin and Aruba immigrants, said that Trump’s “move to force thousands of individuals who have worked hard to be productive members of society is now pressuring them to retreat back to the shadows.”
Richardson said the 43rd Assembly District in Brooklyn that she represents is “home to many immigrants,” adding that “this action taken by the Trump administration poses a real issue for our community.”
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, who traces his roots to Puerto Rico, described as “an affront to everything we stand for in Brooklyn,” Trump’s decision to revoke DACA, stating that one third of all residents in the borough are immigrants.
As the nation awaited Trump’s decision, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told the pre-Caribbean Carnival Breakfast on Monday, at the Lincoln Terrace Court in Brooklyn, that he will take legal action if the president followed through with his threat to deport Caribbean and other “Dreamers.”
“Two hundred miles away in Washington, D.C., something horrible is going to happen. I can’t believe we’re going to await an announcement about who’s going to take away the right of our young people,” said de Blasio in addressing the breakfast organized by the Brooklyn-based West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), organizers of the carnival.
“It does not matter if they were born in another country,” he added, flanked by his wife, Chirlane McCray, who traces her roots to Barbados and St. Lucia, among a host of New York elected officials. “They’re waiting for an announcement that’ll dash their hopes and dreams – many of those are from the Caribbean.
“We’re not taking this lying down,” the mayor continued. “We’re going to the courts and fight for the rights of ‘dreamers.’ We’ll fight in Congress. So, when you march, remember Caribbean immigrants, the ‘dreamers.’”
In a very rare public statement, former President Barack Obama on Tuesday decried Trump’s dismantling of DACA as a “cruel” and “self-defeating” decision, urging the US Congress to work together for a solution.
Obama’s policy granted protection and work permits to about 800,000 young, undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants.
“Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question,” Obama said. “Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us.”
In his announcement, Trump gave Congress six months to implement legislation that would replace Obama’s executive order.