Slatery signs onto letter threatening lawsuit against Trump administration over ‘Dreamers’

Attorneys general from Texas and nine other Republican-led states – Tennessee’s Herbert Slatery is one of them — threatened Thursday to sue the Trump administration over a program that grants deportation relief and access to work permits to nearly 788,000 “Dreamers,” or undocumented immigrants brought to the country at a young age, reports Politico.

In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the states urged the administration to rescind the June 2012 memorandum that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program during President Barack Obama’s first term.

The letter called on the federal government to phase out DACA by ceasing to accept new enrollees or to renew existing applications — a decision that would leave many Dreamers subject to deportation.

In 2014, Obama expanded the DACA program and created a separate deportation reprieve for parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. The DACA expansion would have shielded an estimated 3.6 million people from deportation. But it never took effect because Texas and 25 states sued the Obama administration and persuaded the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to block its implementation. The Supreme Court deadlocked on the issue, leaving a preliminary injunction in place.

The states that successfully challenged the DACA expansion in court never challenged the original DACA program, which has continued under President Donald Trump. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has said that DACA enrollees aren’t being deported on his watch, but DHS said earlier this month that the program remains under review.

A spokesman for Slatery says via email “we will let the letter speak for itself.” A copy is HERE.  The Tennessee Immigration and Refugee Rights Coalition produced the following news release criticizing Slatery for signing the letter.

News release from Tennessee Immigration and Refugee Rights Coalition

Nashville –  Today, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery joined 9 attorneys general and a governor in sending a letter to the Trump administration with an ultimatum: end the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program or they’ll sue. The letter comes just weeks after the program’s five year anniversary. Slatery and the other signatories give the president until September 5th, 2017 to formally rescind the program or they’ll challenge DACA in court.
Since the program’s inception five years ago, the lives of more than 8000 young immigrants in Tennessee have been transformed. Thousands more will be eligible to apply in the future if the program remains intact. With DACA, youth are protected from deportation and are authorized to work in the U.S. The DACA program has been incredibly successful, creating opportunities for immigrant youth to more fully participate in and contribute to their communities. Terminating DACA would have detrimental effects on immigrant families, our communities, and our economy. Without DACA, 8000+ Tennesseans would lose their ability to work, and businesses across the state would have to hire and train new employees to fill positions left vacant by DACA recipients.  According to the CATO Institute, the economic and fiscal impact of repealing DACA would result in a 60 billion loss in federal revenue plus $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next 10 years.
DACA, applicants must meet all of the following to qualify: under 16 when they arrived in the U.S; lived in the U.S. continuously for at least five years; graduated from high school, received a GED or currently be enrolled in an education program; arrived before June 15, 2007 and was 31 years old or younger in 2012; demonstrate a clean criminal record; submit a lengthy application, undergo biometric screening, pay a fee of $465; and renew every two years.
Attorney General Slatery was one of 26 attorneys general who sued the Obama administration to block the 2014 program for parents of U.S. citizens and green card holders (DAPA) and the expansion of the 2012 DACA program. The 2014 programs, which would have benefited an estimated 38,000 people in Tennessee, were enjoined by a federal judge as the lawsuit stalled in court. On June 15th, President Trump formally rescinded the 2014 memo which created the programs. According to the letter sent today, if the Trump administration doesn’t rescind the 2012 DACA program by the deadline, they will expand the existing lawsuit to challenge DACA.
The following is a quote from Cesar Bautista, TIRRC Youth Organizer:
“It is shameful that Attorney General (AG) Slatery would join forces with other extremist AGs to launch an attack on DACA recipients like me. But we won’t give up. For years, we’ve built a powerful coalition of educators, employers, friends, and family. We will organize across the state to defend the program. Tennessee is our home, and we will not let our own Attorney General help deport us. We are here to stay. ” 
The following is a quote from Jazmin Ramirez, Vice President, TIRRC Board of Directors
“I can’t understand why Attorney General Slatery is trying to put young Tennesseans like me into the deportation pipeline. We fought too hard for the DACA program, and it’s been too successful – we won’t let extremists like AG Slatery take it away. We will defend DACA and  protect youth from deportations – but we won’t stop there. We will fight for our families, too. This is our home. We are part of Tennessee, and we won’t give up.”

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