Seven Republican-run states filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration in a Texas federal court on Tuesday, in an attempt to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia banded together against the so-called "Dreamer" program, which protects roughly 700,000 illegal immigrants — brought to the United States as children — from deportation.
President Donald Trump attempted to end DACA last year, but since that time, three federal judges have blocked attempts by the administration to rescind the program.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton noted that the multistate action was necessary because "three activist federal judges" intervened in Trump's plan to phase out the order.
In a written statement, he added: "Our lawsuit is about the rule of law, not the wisdom of any particular immigration policy. Texas has argued for years that the federal executive branch lacks the power to unilaterally grant unlawfully present aliens lawful presence and work authorization."
The states argue in their court filing that "This court has authority to immediately rescind and cancel all DACA permits currently in existence because they are unlawful."
Immigration activists spoke out against the lawsuit, with Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund President Thomas Saenz saying, "Today's filing by seven retrograde states comes nearly six years after DACA was introduced and many weeks after three federal courts began to order that the DACA initiative continue despite Donald Trump's attempt to end it."
Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the Texas Democratic Party, called Paxton's actions part of a "cruel anti-immigration agenda," saying in a statement: "The average age of a DACA participant at the time they arrive in the US is 6.5 years old, they should feel safe and accepted in the only country they know to be their home. Dreamers belong here and we'll never stop fighting for them to stay."
But language in the suit contends that the DACA program should never have been implemented by the executive branch in the first place, saying, "This lawsuit is emphatically about the rule of law. The policy merits of immigration laws are debated in and decided by Congress."