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A.G. Schneiderman Files Lawsuit To Protect Dreamers And Preserve DACA

Today, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman led a coalition of 16 Attorneys General in filing suit to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) grantees. The lawsuit, which was filed this afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, 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 percent of DACA recipients; violated Due Process rights; and harmed States’ residents, institutions, and economies.

“Immigration is the lifeblood of New York State. 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,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “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,” Attorney General Schneiderman concluded.

“This cruel move to rescind DACA feeds the beast of bigotry and undermines the values that built this state and this nation. Ending this policy will upend the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people who have only ever called America their home. This action is antithetical to everything we believe as New Yorkers and we cannot sit on the sidelines and watch the lives of these young people ruined. As we made clear before this decision, New York will sue to protect the 'dreamers' and the state's sovereign interest in the fair and equal application of the law,” said Governor Cuomo

The lawsuit was led by New York Attorney General Schneiderman, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and filed by a total of 16 Attorneys General: New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.

Click here to read the lawsuit.

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.

As the lawsuit 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.”

“There are 30,000 DREAMers in New York; they are our friends, family, and neighbors. And in New York, we don’t let anyone mess with our neighbors. That is why we are joining together to fight the inhumane and cruel decision made by President Trump to end DACA protections,” said Mayor de Blasio.

“Yet again, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman stands on the right side of the law and on the right side of history by using all legal remedies at his disposal to defend our DACA youth,” said Angela Fernandez, Esq., Executive Director and Supervising Attorney of Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights. “We will work tirelessly with the Attorney General and our DACA youth to keep these young Americans here in this country where they belong.”

“Since 1979, NMIC has been committed to supporting people of all nationalities and statuses. We'll continue to work with our partners and allies to defend DACA and stand alongside DACA recipients,” said Maria Lizardo, Executive Director of Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC).

“Donald Trump's decision to end DACA means that September 5th, 2017 will be remembered as a dark day in our nation’s history,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “New York will not be safer or richer by depriving 50,000 young people of their liberty and livelihood, or robbing our economy of more than $140 million. We applaud the Attorney General for standing up to this senseless and self-defeating act and protecting the principles that truly make New York the empire state: opportunity and justice for all.”

"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.

Chancellor James B. Milliken said, “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.”

“President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is further proof of his deep-rooted xenophobia and animus towards our nation's immigrants,” said Jose Calderón, President of the Hispanic Federation. “We are grateful that Attorney General Schneiderman has taken the lead to arrest this action by the President through a multistate lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of NY. We are ready to stand and work with his office and other allies across the United States to protect our Dreamers and uphold the values in which our nation was built on: justice, inclusion and democracy.”

“As a union representing thousands of immigrant workers, we are very gratified to see New York State, our Governor and Attorney General defending Dreamers from the vile and cowardly attacks from the Trump Administration,” said SEIU 32BJ President Héctor Figueroa. “The White House allowed a small group of politically motivated Attorneys General to move them to a cruel decision, and that is not how these decisions should be made. Now, these brave efforts need the support of Congress, who can provide the most permanent solution passing legislation to protect Dreamers that is clean and uncompromised.”

"We reaffirm our commitment to doing everything that we can to support and protect our students, regardless of their immigration status. We are a nation of immigrants and it is this richness of backgrounds and experiences that makes this country unique and prosperous,” said Karol V. Mason, President of John Jay College.