New York's AG Schneiderman Sues To Protect DACA Grantees

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Schneiderman at John Jay College. Photo-Black Star News

Flanked by the chancellor of the City University of New York system and the president of John Jay College and with dozens of DREAMers in the background York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the filing of a lawsuit yesterday to protect beneficiaries of DACA.

Schneiderman leads a coalition of 16 Attorneys General in filing the suit to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) grantees. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

It details how the Trump administration has violated the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution by discriminating against DREAMers of Mexican origin, who make up 78% of DACA recipients; violated Due Process rights; and harmed States’ residents, institutions, and economies.

“Immigration is the lifeblood of New York State," Schneiderman said, in a separate statement prior to the formal announcement at John Jay College, in the presence of CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken and John Jay President Karol Mason. "The Trump administration’s decision to end DACA is cruel, inhumane, and devastating to the 42,000 New Yorkers who have been able to come out of the shadows and live a full life as a result of the program.”

He added: “These DREAMers play by the rules. They work hard and pay taxes. America is the only home they have ever known – and they deserve to stay here and keep contributing to our state and our nation. That’s why we’re taking the Trump administration to court to protect DREAMers and the New York employers who rely on them. It’s clear that President Trump’s DACA repeal would cause huge economic harm to New York – and that it’s driven by President Trump’s personal anti-Mexican bias. Attorneys General have not hesitated to act to protect those we serve, and I’m committed to continuing to use every tool to protect New Yorkers."

Chancellor Milliken added: “CUNY has always been a beacon of hope for immigrants and the greatest engine of social and economic mobility for new Americans. We will never waiver from that essential mission, or from our commitment to the ideals upon which our country and University were founded. We are grateful for the strong resolve of our political leaders and proud to be a part of this historic effort.”

John Jay President Mason said: "When we heard the bad news we met with our students and we had been planning how to respond to this. We are so grateful the attorney general, Schneiderman, has chosen John Jay college, a college dedicated to education for justice to make this great announcement here today."

"To me, DACA represented security and a chance to strive in this country that I love. I call the United States my country because it's the only country I've ever known,” said Eduardo Garcia, DACA grantee and John Jay College student.

The suit was led by Schneiderman, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. In addition to the three, the suit was filed by Attorneys General from: Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.

New York is home to nearly 42,000 DACA grantees. There are approximately 800,000 DACA recipients across the country. According to the Center for American Progress, 97 percent of DACA grantees are employed or go to school; they pay $140 million annually in state and local taxes in New York, as the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy has detailed.

The lawsuit also includes a number of declarations from businesses, academic institutions, local governments, DACA grantees, and others impacted by the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA.

The lawsuit in part states: "Since 2012, DACA has allowed hundreds of thousands of young people to live, study, and work in the United States, and to become stable and even more productive members of their communities, without fear that they could be arrested and placed in deportation proceedings at any moment. Throughout the country, DACA grantees are employed by various companies and State and municipal agencies, which benefit from their skills and productivity. DACA grantees also contribute significantly to State and local revenues and tax bases. Yet, as a result of the DHS Memorandum, approximately 1,400 DACA grantees will lose their work authorization and risk termination of employment each day as their terms begin to expire. DACA recipients will lose their eligibility for public and employer-based health insurance programs that reduce the states’ health expenditures and promote public health. They also will lose their right to enroll in higher education institutions with in-state admissions preferences and tuition; thus, public universities will be deprived of a means by which they enrich the experience of all students and faculty through diversity and new perspectives.

"…More than 78 percent of DACA grantees are of Mexican origin, which is more than double the percentage of people of Mexican origin that comprise of the overall foreign-born population (29 percent) of the United States. Ending DACA, whose participants are mostly of Mexican origin, is a culmination of President’s 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.

“The consequence of the President’s animus-driven decision is that approximately 800,000 persons who have availed themselves of the program will ultimately lose its protections, and will be exposed to removal when their authorizations expire and they cannot seek renewal. The individuals who have relied on DACA are now more vulnerable to removal than before the program was initiated, as they turned over sensitive information to the federal government in their applications. Despite the federal government’s repeated promises that it would not use such information to conduct enforcement measures, the Memorandum does not explain how the government will keep that information secure, nor does it provide any assurances that immigration enforcement agents will not use such information to find and remove those who applied for DACA.

“Rescinding DACA will cause harm to hundreds of thousands of the States’ residents, injure State-run colleges and universities, upset the States’ workplaces, damage the States’ economies, hurt State-based companies, and disrupt the States’ statutory and regulatory interests.

“The Attorney General is empowered to advance New York’s strong and important public policy against unlawful discrimination. New York’s Constitution guarantees all persons the right to equal treatment under the law and forbids discrimination based on race, color, creed or religion. And New York’s statutes reiterate the State’s strong interest in combatting discrimination and prejudice.”

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