The law can be used for good or bad. And when it’s used for good, I have no greater feeling as a lawyer. Today was one of those good days. The District of Columbia joined 15 states to sue the federal government, Donald Trump as President, Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Trump’s decision on ending DACA.
Litigation is my life and one that I’m proud of. And I am so proud today that lawyers in New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia took a stand for DACA in fighting for the lives of those young undocumented “Americans” who came here as children before the age of 16 and know no other country except the U.S.
The lawsuit filed in federal court in New York alleges that Donald Trump’s decision to end DACA is motivated by ill will; will cause a loss of revenue for these states, lower employment, split up families and serve no useful purpose under the rule of law. Major businesses, Amazon, Starbucks and Microsoft filed affidavits within the lawsuit stating the effect of ending DACA will have ill adverse impact on businesses. Mr. Trump, also known to a few as the jobs creator, will be doing anything but increasing jobs. In addition, Mr. Trump has made known that he does not favor Mexicans—from a Mexican American judge presiding over his lawsuit to calling Mexicans “bad hombres”. More than 78% of the DACA recipients are of Mexican descent.
California has an unusually large segment of Hispanic residents. And California Attorney General Xavier Becerra intends to file his state’s separate lawsuit to protect the almost 200,000 DACA recipients in the State of California. Maryland’s Attorney General Brian Frosh is contemplating taking similar action.
A federal lawsuit must be based on an aspect or issue involving the U.S. Constitution or federal law. The basis appears that the revocation of DACA is illegal based, in part, on discrimination of Mexicans. Each state spells out in the lawsuit how its individual state will suffer substantial harm in areas of business, education, health and tax revenue. Many aspects of the lawsuit sound similar to travel ban legal arguments in lawsuits filed earlier this year citing previous derogatory statements by Trump against Mexicans and due process arguments.
The 15 states and the District of Columbia joined in the lawsuit are both blue states and a few red states that voted for Trump. North Carolina, a red state, argues that immigration and DACA recipients are vital to its economy. North Carolina asserts in the lawsuit that it has one of the highest application rates to DACA in the country. The lawsuit alleges that North Carolina will lose 7.8 billion dollars over the next ten years if DACA is rescinded. I assume that before long other states will take action, in addition to those contemplated by Maryland and California. The full Complaint can be read here.
The Department of Justice will defend against the lawsuit. While the case will likely be an uphill climb to win, legal precedent is often won by advancing the right arguments and being on the right side of the law. And fighting Trump on ending DACA is being on the right side of the law. The law can be sterile at times. But this lawsuit is full of heart.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer and former Baltimore prosecutor. She often appears as a legal and political analyst on MSNBC, CBS, PBS, Al Jazeera and Fox 5 DC. Her opinion articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and Huffington Post.