Minnesota, 3 other states sue to defend DACA

Community members fight President Trump's redaction of DACA.
A group marches in Minneapolis last week against President Trump's decision to end DACA.
Maria Alejandra Cardona | MPR News file

Minnesota joined California, Maryland and Maine to file a lawsuit Monday against the Trump administration over its decision to end a program that protects thousands of young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. The lawsuit alleges that the decision violates the Constitution and federal laws.

The Trump administration announced last week that it would phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which allows immigrants who arrived illegally as children to remain in the country and hold jobs. The program has 800,000 participants nationwide and about 6,200 in Minnesota.

The lawsuit asserts that 16,000 Minnesotans meet the eligibility requirements for DACA. It argues that the decision to end the program will lead to the so-called Dreamers losing their work status, health insurance and ability to continue their education.

John Keller, executive director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, said it's a welcome relief to know that the state is sticking up for the DACA recipients.

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"It's extremely important for Minnesota's immigrant community to know that the state is behind it," he said, "and particularly for those with DACA that have come to depend on this and trust the federal government when sending in their information."

The suit alleges that the government hasn't necessarily made clear that it will keep its promise to protect DACA recipients from deportation. It also says the government violated laws that require a deep analysis of the negative impact on small businesses, nonprofits and government before deciding to phase out the program.

Additionally, the suit says the decision to rescind the program came quickly, without the proper public comment period that would've provided evidence of its success.

In a statement, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson said the young people covered under the program "have grown up as children in the United States, have relied on the law to get an education, buy homes, start families, grow businesses, or join the military."

She said the "government's rescission of DACA violates the promises made to these young people — 97 percent of whom are in school or in the workforce — who have relied on the law to make important decisions about their lives."

Counting those that have joined this lawsuit, a total of 19 states and the District of Columbia have sued the administration over the decision to end DACA.