Minnesota is one of several states arguing the U.S. should allow hundreds of thousands of young immigrants known as Dreamers, who came to the country illegally as children, to continue living and working here.
State Attorney General Lori Swanson, a DFL candidate for governor, announced Monday she joined 19 other Democratic attorneys general who support the continuation of the Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by former President Barack Obama.
They are responding to a lawsuit by seven states, led by Texas, filed in May. Those states, which all have Republican attorneys general, aim to end the program and argued that it illegally granted people “lawful presence” status and authorized them to work.
“This case is about 800,000 young people — 97 percent of whom are in school or the workforce — who relied on this program to go to school, get jobs, buy homes and join [the] military. This brief aims to stop the rug from being pulled out from under them six years later,” Swanson, who is locked in a heated three-person primary battle, said in a statement.
When Obama rolled out DACA in 2012, he said the program was not a path to citizenship. But the seven states opposing the policy argue some Dreamers have since become citizens or received a pathway to citizenship.
“If ever there were a violation of the President’s duty to ‘take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,’ … this is it,” their lawsuit states.
This is not the first time those states have sued over immigration programs. They were among 26 states that challenged the Obama administration in 2014 when the then-president announced an expanded DACA program and a program providing parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents temporary relief from deportation. A federal district court in Texas granted an injunction blocking those programs from being implemented, and the U.S. Supreme Court effectively upheld the injunction.
The states then threatened to sue over the original DACA program, and the Department of Homeland Security announced it would wind down the program.
But federal judges in Brooklyn, San Francisco and the District of Columbia have since ruled against the Trump administration’s plan to end the program. Minnesota was one of the states that joined a lawsuit last year to try to prevent the phase-out of DACA.
If the program is eliminated, it wouldn’t just be young immigrants who would be hurt, Swanson’s office said in a news release Monday. She said the change would also negatively impact employers, educational institutions and communities that depend on their contributions.
The national GDP would take an expensive hit if DACA is repealed, the Attorney General’s Office said. Swanson’s news release noted many business leaders, including the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, want to prevent Dreamers from being deported.
Business executives from across the country have previously called on Congress to reach a deal on permanent legislative protections for DACA recipients.