BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – A federal judge today allowed nearly two dozen young immigrants who grew up in the United States and are recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to intervene in a lawsuit filed by Texas and six other states challenging the 2012 immigration initiative.
MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) filed a motion for intervention last week in the case on behalf of 22 DACA recipients who argued that they would be inadequately represented by the Trump administration officials named as defendants in the litigation, given the administration’s public opposition to DACA. Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Brownsville Division granted the motion today when neither plaintiffs nor defendant indicated an intention to oppose intervention.
“Today’s order of intervention ensures that this case will not go forward as a sweetheart arrangement between non-adversaries who agree with each other on almost every relevant issue,” said Thomas A. Saenz. MALDEF president and general counsel. “Intervenors and their counsel will present a vigorous defense of DACA, an initiative in effect for many years and from which Texas and every other state have benefited.”
Among the 22 DACA recipients who are now in the lawsuit are a doctoral student attending Harvard’s Graduate School of Education; the executive director of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, an immigrant youth-led organization focused on higher education and immigrant rights; and a nurse who works at a hospital in Edinburg, Texas.
“DREAMers will now participate in the case on equal footing with the states challenging DACA and the federal government,” said Nina Perales, MALDEF vice president of litigation. “The DACA intervenors will be able to speak for themselves to counter the retrograde arguments by Texas and a handful of states that want to end DACA for the entire nation.”
Since it was initiated in 2012, DACA has provided work authorization and protection from deportation to hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. The Trump administration announced in September 2017 its intention to phase out DACA, but the initiative has remained in place because of three separate federal court rulings in California, New York, and Washington, D.C.
The Texas-led lawsuit, filed on May 1, challenges the constitutionality of DACA, and seeks to force the federal government to cease accepting new DACA applications and prevent it from renewing current grants of deferred action.
Texas previously sued to block a 2014 executive action that would have expanded DACA and granted deferred action to parents of Americans and lawful permanent residents (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans or DAPA). At that time, Texas alleged it would suffer a financial loss if it was required to implement the new initiatives.
MALDEF intervened in that case on behalf of three Texas mothers who could have received DAPA and argued their position before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2016, the High Court split 4-4, leaving in place a preliminary injunction issued by Judge Hanen and affirmed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case was eventually rendered moot after the Trump administration officially rescinded DAPA.
A separate challenge to the September 2017 DACA rescission order is being heard today by the U.S Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The court will review a preliminary injunction issued in January by a California district court blocking the Trump administration’s effort to phase out the 2012 initiative.
Read a list of frequently asked questions about the legal challenges to DACA here.