Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined a seven-state lawsuit filed yesterday by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton aiming to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
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The DACA program, created under the Obama administration, gives some legal protections to certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children, often called Dreamers. The Trump administration has been trying to end the program but has been blocked by the courts. Without it, the 700,000 young immigrants participating in the program would lose eligibility for work permits and could force deportation. Hundreds of thousands more would be eligible for the program but new applications have stopped while the program is in legal limbo — including tens of thousands who became eligible by turning 15 after September 5, when the Trump administration stopped accepting new applications. In the latest in a string of legal defeats for the Trump administration on the issue, a federal judge recently issued a ruling that has the potential to fully open DACA back up to new applicants in 90 days.
Paxton, Rutledge, and five other red-state attorney generals hostile to DACA have now filed a lawsuit in a friendly district in Texas arguing that President Obama’s initial creation of DACA violated the Constitution and federal law. If a federal judge in Texas make a ruling terminating DACA after several courts elsewhere made rulings keeping it in place, it would create conflicting decisions that exacerbate the legal limbo and could eventually land DACA in the Supreme Court.
“This Court has authority to immediately rescind and cancel all DACA permits currently in existence because they are unlawful,” the lawsuit argues. “However, Plaintiffs are amenable to a remedy that enjoins [the government] from issuing or renewing DACA permits in the future, effectively phasing out the program within two years.”
Paxton and company have threatened such lawsuits before but backed off when the Trump administration announced plans to end the program. The Trump administration has actually unsuccessfully argued before the courts that part of its justification for ending the program altogether was the possibility of a court doing so in response in response to such a lawsuit. It’s unclear whether Trump administration, which is technically being sued in this new lawsuit, will defend the law in court or allow an outside party to do so. The Trump administration and Paxton agree; the Paxton lawsuit is really a challenge to the other federal judges who have made rulings that keep DACA in place.
Rutledge, perhaps best understood as a performance artist of grievance, whipped out a press release touting her participation in the lawsuit. Obama is gone, but Rutledge continues her campaign pledge to fight Obama from Little Rock, “wake up every morning” brainstorming ideas to sue the federal government, and other such yelps of resentment.
“The United States is a compassionate country, but we are also a country of laws and it is important that I stand up for the rule of law,” Rutledge said in a press release.
According to Department of Homeland Security data, there are an estimated 5,000 DACA recipients in Arkansas. Rutledge’s press release didn’t mention that.