LANGLEY PARK, Md. _ Today, on the deadline for the last DACA renewal applications to be received by immigration, CASA and a legal team that includes Arnold & Porter, Kaye Scholer, LLP, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP and the Civil Rights Clinic of the Howard University School of Law, announced they are suing the federal government over the elimination of the successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has given work status to more 800,000 immigrants who came to the United States as minors.
CASA’s lawsuit argues that the government did not follow proper procedures in ending the program and was instead motivated by an unconstitutional racial animus against Mexican and Central American DACA beneficiaries. The suit seeks to reinstate DACA and protect the privacy of individuals who were induced to submit sensitive personal information to immigration officials when they applied.
The information provided by the applicants was never meant to be used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to terrorize DACA applicants and their families. Despite repeated assurances that their information would not be shared with ICE, the administration is now backing away from those assurances, creating widespread fear in the DREAMer community.
During a press conference today, just a few miles from U.S District Court for the District of Maryland where the lawsuit was filed, DACA recipients and their allies spelled out the importance of the legal action.
“Our suit seeks to reinstate the DACA program, which was ended in an inhumane and arbitrary manner without following legally required procedures and is one more manifestation of the racist tactics this administration has implemented to target, dehumanize and deport immigrants, especially immigrants from Latin America,” said CASA’s Executive Director Gustavo Torres. “We also seek to hold the federal government to its promise that the information DREAMers submitted on their DACA applications will be kept private and not used for immigration enforcement against them or their families.”
For DACA recipients, the situation is urgent.
“When my DACA expires in June, I’ll lose my job and my hopes for the future. I am joining this lawsuit to demand that the government honor its commitment to DREAMers and their families, and immediately reinstate the DACA program,” said Brenda Moreno Martinez, a DACA participant from Baltimore.
To add insult to injury, many DACA recipients believe the government has betrayed them, promising them a benefit but now using the information gathered through that process to expedite their removal.
“The United States made a commitment to fairly treat these young people, who came to this country as children and built a life here. They bravely came forward and have participated in a process that acknowledges the justice of their request for status to live, work and learn in this country,” said Matthew Handley, Litigation Director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. “The President’s actions with regard to DACA are plainly illegal and unjust.”
“As our complaint emphasizes, the DACA program asked these young people — who came to this country with no intent to violate the immigration laws — to trust the government with highly sensitive personal information. It would be unconstitutional, as well as unconscionable, for the government to betray their trust,” added John A. Freedman, a partner with Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP.
“DACA isn’t a law and isn’t a permanent solution, but did provide important benefits to hundreds of thousands of people and it is unjust (and unlawful) to arbitrarily pull those protections away, with no real process, before the legislative solution we need is in place,” said Nicholas Katz, Senior Legal Manager for CASA. “And the greatest injustice and betrayal of all would be using the information these young people submitted to target them and their families.”
Other organizations named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of California (CHIRLA), One America, Make The Road Pennsylvania, Michigan United, Arkansas United Community Coalition and the Junta for Progressive Action.