SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Moving to freeze a decision by the Trump administration that could subject 200,000 young Californians to deportation, the Golden State’s attorney general on Monday announced a lawsuit against the plan to end protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the son of immigrants, called the administration’s recent decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, reckless and unconstitutional.
“In California, we don’t turn our backs on those who help build the state and who work hard,” Becerra said during a press conference. “It’s unfortunate that President Donald Trump chose to turn his back.”
California’s lawsuit comes six days after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the country will wind down DACA over the next six months, potentially jeopardizing the future of 800,000 program recipients, nicknamed Dreamers.
There are more than 200,000 Dreamers in California who were brought to the United States as children but have registered with the federal government for certain immigration protections. Dreamers must meet certain conditions such as attending school or serving in the military and pass criminal background checks. California is home to more than a quarter of all Dreamers, more than any other state.
Flanked by two California Dreamers, Becerra told reporters that ending the immigration program would have a disastrous impact on the state’s economy. He said the program, enacted through executive order by President Barack Obama in 2012, has allowed DACA recipients to come out of the shadows without fear of deportation.
Becerra noted the pair on stage with him were brought to the United States at four years old. One of the Dreamers, a senior at California State University, Sacramento, says she has faith that Congress will act and protect DACA over the next six months.
“I’m about to graduate in December and I don’t know what’s going to become of my life. I don’t know if I’ll be able to go down that career path that I want to with the majors I have,” the Dreamer said.
The lawsuit will be filed in the Northern District of California, and the states of Maryland, Minnesota and Maine plan to join the challenge. This past week, the University of California sued to protect an estimated 4,000 Dreamers enrolled at its campuses, and 15 states and the District of Columbia have also sued.
Becerra said California’s lawsuit is similar to the other challenges, but it will argue Trump’s decision violates due process protections by “putting at risk DACA recipients’ personal information.” He said the federal government made “arbitrary and capricious decisions for no good reason” and failed to assess the harm that ending DACA could cause.
“It would not only be a travesty economically for our state, it would be a travesty for local law enforcement who have grown accustomed to having the support and cooperation of [Dreamer families] working to combat crime in the neighborhoods,” Becerra said.
Becerra’s announcement comes on the heels of a state senator’s introduction of a measure late Friday that would bar federal immigration agents from schools and state buildings without warrants. Senate Bill 183 must be approved by the Legislature ahead of Friday’s end-of-session deadline.
“We have the opportunity to show we care about our students and that we are going to use all legislative and legal options to protect our DACA recipients,” state Sen. Ricardo Lara, author of SB 183 said in a statement after Sessions’ DACA announcement.