(CN) – The demise of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals would be felt nationwide, as states stand to lose hundreds of millions in annual tax revenue if Texas prevails in its quest to end the program, a coalition of blue states claims in an amicus brief.
Led by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a 19-state coalition filed an amicus brief on Saturday urging the federal judge presiding over a Texas-led lawsuit seeking to end DACA not to suspend the program with a preliminary injunction.
DACA protects from deportation, for renewable two-year terms, an estimated 750,000 immigrants brought to the United States as children, and lets them get work permits and driver’s licenses.
The Democrat-controlled states say that DACA recipients, who must have continuously lived in the United States since June 2007 to qualify, are too intertwined in their communities to be deported now and the hit to the national economy would be substantial.
“Without DACA, GDP will be $460.3 billion less over the next decade, with Social Security and Medicare tax receipts dropping $24.6 billion,” the brief states.
Even if DACA recipients lost the “lawful presence” status conferred by the program, the blue states say, they are unlikely to be deported because they pose little threat to the nation’s security and they have deep family ties in the United States.
Many DACA enrollees have no recollection of their home countries that they left with their parents as toddlers.
The blue states say DACA is an exercise of prosecutorial discretion that U.S. presidents have used as immigration policy for decades, most notably a “family fairness” policy that President Ronald Reagan implemented in the late 1980s that gave 1.5 million relatives of people newly eligible to become legal permanent residents a reprieve from deportation and made them eligible for work permits.
The Trump administration announced in late summer 2017 it was winding down DACA after Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the program, started by President Barack Obama in 2012, is illegal and cannot be defended in court.
Sessions based that conclusion on federal courts’ treatment of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, a sister program to DACA that Obama unveiled in November 2014 that would have shielded parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents from deportation.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen and the 5th Circuit blocked DAPA from taking effect, siding with a Texas-led 26-state coalition that challenged it. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the injunction by default when it deadlocked 4-4 in June 2014.
Hanen and the 5th Circuit agreed with Texas that the Immigration and Nationality Act does not grant the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the agency in charge of immigration, authority to give lawful presence status to the estimated 4.3 million people who would have qualified for DAPA.
But New York and California say in their friend-of-the-court brief that Sessions and Texas are wrong in their assumption that courts will ultimately find DACA illegal because of the precedent set in the DAPA litigation.
The Immigration and Nationality Act gave most parents who qualified for DAPA a process to legalize their immigration status through their children’s status.
“Congress has created no comparable avenue for the class of persons eligible for DACA to obtain lawful status,” the brief states.