LOS ANGELES (CN) – A coalition of 40 cities and counties lobbied the Ninth Circuit on Tuesday to keep in place a block of the federal government’s plans to dismantle a program that shields more than 700,000 immigrants from deportation.
City leaders from New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as other cities and counties across the nation asked the appeals court to uphold an existing nationwide injunction of the Trump administration’s order to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
DACA recipients, known as “Dreamers,” must have entered the United States before age 16 and are required to provide proof that they have continuously resided in the country since June 15, 2007. They must also pay U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services a $500 application fee and be interviewed by the agency, which fingerprints and photographs them, before a decision on their cases can be made.
If approved, DACA grants them protection from deportation and allows them to get federal work permits for renewable two-year periods.
Last month, the Supreme Court denied the Justice Department’s bid to hear an emergency appeal of a federal judge’s finding that the Trump administration relied on a “flawed legal premise” when it attempted to rescind DACA last year.
The White House asked the justices to sidestep the Ninth Circuit’s review of a challenge brought by the University of California regents in the Northern District of California. The justices declined the request.
Since then, a preliminary injunction was issued by a federal judge in San Francisco and a nearly identical follow-up injunction was imposed by a federal judge in Brooklyn, but Dreamers remain in limbo.
So the coalition of cities and counties, the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors filed a 42-page amicus brief, arguing that ending DACA will send ripple effects into communities across the country.
Nearly half of all DACA recipients live in the metropolitan areas of the 40 cities and counties, according to brief, including the cities of Providence, Rhode Island, and Atlanta, Georgia.
“On a micro-economic level, the benefits gained through the DACA program have given recipients of deferred action the encouragement and comfort to openly enter the work force, take on student loans, sign mortgages, and start businesses,” the coalition says in the brief.
Terminating the program would roll back all the accomplishments earned by DACA recipients and would harm the cities and counties where those people are located, the coalition says.
Furthermore, the cities and counties say DACA promotes public safety because undocumented immigrants are substantially less likely to report crimes by others, including violent crimes.
As the threat of deportation increases, DACA recipients will less likely be willing to communicate with law enforcement and will fear reporting wage theft, code enforcement, slum lords or sweatshop owners, the coalition says.
Also, narrowing the scope of the injunction will hurt immigrant communities after natural disasters, noting many immigrant families didn’t apply for aid after the deadly wildfires in California because they feared their information would be shared with the federal government, according to the coalition.
Several related DACA cases, including lawsuits against the federal government filed by the state of California and city of San Jose, will be heard by a Ninth Circuit panel in May.
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