BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – Nearly two dozen young immigrants who grew up in the United States and are recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are asking a federal court to allow them to intervene in a lawsuit filed this month by Texas and six other states challenging the 2012 initiative.
MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) filed a motion for intervention Tuesday in the case which is pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Brownsville Division, on behalf of 22 DACA recipients who say they would be inadequately represented by the Trump administration officials named as defendants in the litigation.
“Texas and the Trump administration share the same erroneous and uninformed view of the law with respect to DACA,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “Such a collusive lawsuit cannot go forward without intervenors who will actually and vigorously defend the critically important initiative.”
MALDEF argues that DACA recipients would face substantial harm, including loss of authorized presence in the U.S., as well as loss of educational and economic opportunities, unless they are allowed to intervene because the Trump administration is unlikely and unwilling to adequately protect their interests given its public opposition to DACA.
Among those seeking to intervene is 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.
Since it was initiated in 2012, DACA has provided protection from deportation and work authorization to hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.
“The DACA intervenors have grown up and flourished in the United States,” said Nina Perales, MALDEF vice president of litigation. “Our government should welcome their contributions instead of forcing them out of their studies and jobs, and the only home they know.”
The Trump administration announced it was rescinding DACA in September 2017, 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 last week, 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.
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 (DAPA). At that time, Texas alleged it would suffer a financial loss if it was required to implement the expanded initiative.
MALDEF intervened in that case on behalf of three Texas mothers who would have benefitted from 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 U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen and affirmed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case was eventually rendered moot after the Trump administration officially rescinded DAPA.