New Jersey joins legal fight to save DACA

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal outlines the state's participation in a legal challenge to preserve DACA. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal outlines the state's participation in a legal challenge to preserve DACA. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey is joining 15 other states and the District of Columbia in a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s decision to end DACA, the program that provides temporary protection for children — commonly known as “Dreamers” — brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents.

If the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program ends, it would prevent some of the best and brightest from living their dreams, said Gov. Phil Murphy.

“To deny every one of New Jersey’s 22,000 ‘Dreamers’ the right to become American citizens is to deny justice,” he said Wednesday.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the litigation challenges what he considers unlawful federal efforts by the Trump administration to violate the rights of hard-working immigrants and seeks to preserve protections so they can pursue the American dream.

“We’re making it absolutely clear today that we will use all of the tools of the attorney general’s office to protect the rights of ‘Dreamers’ to enjoy that American dream and to ensure the safety and well-being of all New Jerseyans regardless of their immigration status,” he said.

After taking the oath of citizenship, Parthiv Patel became one of the first DACA participants to become a lawyer in New Jersey. The Mount Laurel resident said he and others are hoping for a permanent fix so they can be legal citizens and remain in the U.S.

“At times, they may be timid. At times, they might be shy to come out and speak about their situation,” said Patel. “But once they realize that they aren’t alone, that people are ready and able to stand up and support you, more and more will come out.

“Eventually we’ll have this upswing of  support we need to pass it through Congress.”

Murphy, a Democrat, said he’s also planning to create a state Office of Immigrant Protection and Defense.

That’s something Assemblyman Hal Wirths, R-Sussex, said he opposes, claiming it would be the Democrats’ first step to making New Jersey a sanctuary state for unauthorized immigrants.

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