NEW YORK (AP) — Fifteen states and the District of Columbia sued on Sept. 6 to block President Donald Trump’s plan to end a program protecting young immigrants from deportation — an act Washington state’s attorney general called “a dark time for our country.”
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.
On Sept. 5, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said a program, known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, will end in early March 2018 to give 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.
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.
It remained unclear why the president also said, via a tweet on Sept. 5, that he would revisit DACA should Congress fail to act, especially when his attorney general said the program started by the Obama administration lacked justification under the Constitution.
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.”
Earlier this year, Ferguson sued Trump over his travel ban, which resulted in a federal judge blocking nationwide enforcement.
Larry Neumeister and Gene Johnson, both of The Associated Press, co-wrote this report. Equal Voice News contributed to it.