Republican Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery said Friday afternoon that his state will withdraw its threat to join nine others — including Arkansas — in suing to stop DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects around 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation.
The multi-state coalition, led by Texas AG Ken Paxton, has said it will sue if the Trump administration doesn’t take action on the Obama-era program by Tuesday, Sept. 5. President Trump said on Friday that he’d announce his decision Tuesday.
A group of Arkansan DACA recipients and organizers with the Arkansas United Community Coalition are trying to convince Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to do the same. They found an audience Friday morning with Rutledge and later with Governor Hutchinson, AUCC Executive Director Mireya Reith said. (She was not present at the meetings firsthand.) The group delivered the attorney general a petition calling on the state to drop its objections and a batch of letters from Arkansan DACA beneficiaries. About 10,000 DACA recipients live in Arkansas, according to AUCC. (Other estimates place the number closer to 6,000.)
Reith said Rutledge told them she had spoken with Hutchinson on Thursday night about the issue and was seeking input from other state leaders. The attorney general expressed empathy for the young immigrants and acknowledged the potential of students that receive DACA; she told them that she had joined the lawsuit because it would force Congress to find a permanent solution, Reith said. (That’s not how Rutledge framed the issue when she announced she was joining Texas in the lawsuit in August.)
Reith said Hutchinson invited DACA recipients to come into his office and share their stories and describe how the program’s end would affect their lives. “He confirmed his conversation with the AG the night before,” Reith said, “but did not make any commitment about specific actions he would or would not take.” A number of governors have signed a petition asking for DACA to remain in place, and AUCC asked Hutchinson to do the same. He didn’t indicate he planned to do so, Reith said.
Meanwhile, a number of elected officials and civic leaders in Arkansas added their names to the petition, including Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola. The mayors of Fayetteville, Springdale, Fort Smith and Pine Bluff also signed, as did the chancellor of UA-Fayetteville, the board of trustees from UA-Little Rock, and a number of Democratic legislators.