The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, together with multiple affiliate organizations, has filed requests to obtain copies of communications between the Office of the Texas Attorney General and the federal government regarding any discussions on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an immigration program under the Obama administration that seeks to protect undocumented immigrants brought into the country as minors, placing them as low-priority targets for deportation.
The requests come after officials from 10 states, Texas included, sent a letter late in June to Attorney General Jeff Sessions demanding an end to the DACA program, threatening to amend an existing lawsuit challenging the program’s lawfulness in front of Texas Judge Andrew Hanen should the federal government fail to take immediate action.
DACA allows qualified undocumented immigrants to apply for “deferred action” in renewable, 2-year periods, allowing them to apply for and receive a temporary work permit and obtain a driver’s license. The program was intended to protect immigrants who were raised as Americans and would have nowhere to go should they face deportation.
Sessions is a known critic of DACA, having called it “very questionable, in my opinion, constitutionally,” also later saying, “I like it that states and localities are holding the federal government to account and expecting us to do our responsibility to the state and locals, and that’s to enforce the law.”
Not everyone agrees with Sessions’ interpretation of the deferred action program’s legality.
Edgar Saldivar, a Texas ACLU senior attorney, pointed out that DACA protects the constitutional rights of hundreds of thousands of young Americans who entered the United States as children and know no other home but the country they were raised in.
“These young men and women are dedicated students, industrious workers and responsible members of their communities; to put them at risk of deportation to countries that they do not know would be both unwise and unjust. Both the courts and the American people have expressed their strong approval of DACA. Any attempt to end it should be made open to public debate and discussion,” he added.
The Texas ACLU open records request reads: “The United States has repeatedly—and successfully—defended the legal validity of the DACA program. Indeed, every legal challenge to the DACA program has failed.4As the United States has argued in several cases,5DACA is a lawful exercise of the enforcement discretion that Congress delegated to the Executive Branch. The Secretary of Homeland Security’s authority to grant deferred action derives from the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), which charges the Secretary with “the administration and enforcement” of the country’s immigration laws.”
If you, or a loved one, are a beneficiary of DACA concerned about your immigration status, schedule a consultation with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm to learn about your constitutional rights. Call our offices today to talk to immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.