Citing ‘human element,’ TN AG backs off threatened immigration lawsuit

Herbert Slatery, who earlier joined other Republican state attorneys general in a letter threatening a the Trump administration with a lawsuit over immigration policy, said Friday in a letter to Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker that he has changed his mind.

From the CNN report:

The Tennessee attorney general had been part of a group of 10 states that were threatening the Trump administration to add the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to ongoing litigation in an unfriendly court if President Donald Trump doesn’t sunset the program by September 5. That ultimatum was led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and was issued earlier this summer. (Previous post HERE.)

While (Slatery said in the letter) he still doubts the constitutionality of the Obama administration program, which protects young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation through executive authority, he said he would not pursue a court challenge.

“There is a human element to this, however, that is not lost on me and should not be ignored,” Slatery wrote. “Many of the DACA recipients, some of whose records I reviewed, have outstanding accomplishments and laudable ambitions, which if achieved, will be of great benefit and service to our country. They have an appreciation for the opportunities afforded them by our country. … At this time, our office has decided not to challenge DACA in the litigation, because we believe there is a better approach.”

Slatery specifically referenced legislation proposed by Sens. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, and Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, that would write protections like those of DACA into law permanently.

“I encourage your serious consideration of this proposed legislation,” Slatery wrote to Corker and Alexander. “It is my sincere hope that the important issues raised by the states will be resolved by the people’s representatives in the halls of Congress, not in a courtroom.”

Earlier Friday, House Speaker Paul Ryan and other prominent conservative lawmakers implored Trump to not scrap DACA by the September 5 deadline in order to give Congress an opportunity to write a solution for the popular program into law. One of the chief Republican criticisms of the program has been that President Barack Obama used executive action to create it, rather than legislation.

On Thursday, Paxton reiterated his intention to go through with the program, telling the Texas Tribune through a spokeswoman that the state is prepared to move forward despite the devastation in Texas from Hurricane Harvey.

Note: Text of the letter HERE.

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