NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Fifteen states and Washington D.C. are suing the Trump administration over his decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects those brought into the country illegally as children.
The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of New York.
The plaintiffs were New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
“When bullies step up, you have to step to them and step to them quickly,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the program, known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, will end in six months, giving Congress time to find a legislative solution for the immigrants.
The participants were brought to the U.S. illegally as children or came with families who overstayed visas.
The lawsuit argues that ending DACA violates due process and harms states, residents, institutions and economies, WCBS 880’s Mike Smeltz reported.
“The core of this is: You can’t enact public policy based upon a discriminatory animus,” Schneiderman said.
The lawsuit says the president has often made negative comments directed specifically at Mexicans and Latinos. Based on that, Schneiderman said the decision to phase out DACA is not to follow the rule of law, which the White House says it’s doing, but instead a specific action by the administration to target a certain group of people.
“Seventy-eight percent of the DACA grantees are Mexican, 93 percent are Latinos, and the administration has over and over again evinced an unconstitutional, discriminatory animus against those groups,” he said.
Those already enrolled in DACA remain covered until their permits expire. If their permits expire before March, 5, 2018, they are eligible to renew them for another two years as long as they apply by Oct. 5. But the program isn’t accepting new applications.
Opponents of the program said they are pleased with the Trump administration’s decision. They called DACA an unconstitutional abuse of executive power but proponents of the program said the move by Trump was cruel.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the action violates the due process rights of the immigrants. He said he fears the information the immigrants provided the government to participate in DACA could be used against them.
“It’s outrageous, it’s not right,” an emotional Ferguson said at a news conference in Seattle. “As attorney general for the state of Washington, I have a hammer, it’s the law.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee joined Ferguson at the news conference and said “this is one more of a long train of abuses that this president has attempted to foist on this great nation.”
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)