Fifteen states — including Pennsylvania and Delaware — and the District of Columbia sued Wednesday to block President Donald Trump’s plan to end a program protecting young immigrants from deportation — an act Washington state’s attorney general called “a dark time for our country.”
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro joined in the suit and on Wednesday put out a video explaining his decision to fight for the program for undocumented young people.
“Whether or not you agree with the policy or support President Trump isn’t the issue here. The federal government made a promise and asked these young people to apply. And the rule of law says we can’t rip that away from them now.”
In the five years it’s been around, the program has touched more than 5,000 Pennsylvanians allowing them to work legally and go to school, while withholding federal benefits.
Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn said he thinks “the President’s decision was flat out wrong,” and plans to join other state AG’s in challenging through the courts.
The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of New York. The plaintiffs were New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said a program, known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, will end in six months to give Congress time to find a legislative solution for the immigrants.
The participants were brought to the U.S. illegally as children or came with families who overstayed visas.
Those already enrolled in DACA remain covered until their permits expire. If their permits expire before March, 5, they are eligible to renew them for another two years as long as they apply by Oct. 5. But the program isn’t accepting new applications.
Opponents of the program said they are pleased with the Trump administration’s decision. They called DACA an unconstitutional abuse of executive power but proponents of the program said the move by Trump was cruel.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the action violates the due process rights of the immigrants. He said he fears the information the immigrants provided the government to participate in DACA could be used against them.
“It’s outrageous, it’s not right,” an emotional Ferguson said at a news conference in Seattle. “As attorney general for the state of Washington, I have a hammer, it’s the law.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee joined Ferguson at the news conference and said “this is one more of a long train of abuses that this president has attempted to foist on this great nation.”
Earlier this year, Ferguson sued Trump over the initial travel ban, which resulted in a federal judge blocking nationwide enforcement.