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Paxton Asks Court To Halt DACA While Lawsuit Seeking To End Program Is Heard

Marjorie Kamys Cotera
Texas Tribune
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has asked a federal court to put DACA on hold pending the outcome of a lawsuit to end it.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has asked a court to stop the federal government from issuing or renewing DACA permits while a lawsuit Texas filed yesterdaywith six other states is pending.

The coalition of Republican-led states sued the Trump administration in federal court to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program. The Obama-era program allows people brought to the U.S. illegally as minors to apply for work permits and protection from deportation.

More than 120,000 undocumented immigrants are covered by DACA in Texas alone.

Paxton had threatened to sue in June 2017 if President Trump didn't end DACA by September. The administration formally announced on Sept. 5 that it was ending the program, and Trump put the onus on Congress to find a fix for it.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., last month ruled against the Trump administration's decision to end DACA, calling the move "arbitrary and capricious." Federal judges in California and New York previously handed down similar decisions.

Paxton called it a "travesty of justice" that the three judges could leave DACA in place.

“Activist judges should not stand in the way of the president fulfilling his constitutional duty," he said in a statement Wednesday. "Our coalition is confident it will prevail with its lawsuit to end DACA, but in the meantime, the federal government must be enjoined from issuing or renewing any DACA permits under this unlawful program.”

Paxton said the lawsuit filed this week against the executive order that created DACA is about maintaining rule of law.

“Left intact, DACA sets a dangerous precedent by giving the executive branch sweeping authority to ignore the laws enacted by Congress and change or nation’s immigration laws to suit a president’s own preferences," he said at a press conference yesterday.  

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said the lawsuit raises questions about whether the Trump administration is "conspiring with Texas and other states to undermine DACA." In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday, Durbin asked for detailed information about communications between the administration and officials from the states that are suing.

He writes: 

"In fact, you have publicly supported the states’ threat to challenge DACA.  For example, in a June 30 interview, you said, 'I’ve got to tell you, I like it that our states and localities are holding the federal government to account, expecting us to do what is our responsibility to the state and locals, and that’s to enforce the law.' I cannot recall the Attorney General of the United States ever welcoming a threat to sue the President.  And I cannot recall the Justice Department ever using such a threat to take an action to shut down a government program, negatively impacting hundreds of thousands of people."

DACA recipient Vanessa Rodriguez told KUT she finds the whole situation frustrating.

"Congress had the opportunity to act by March 5," the UT student said, "and their lack of action has resulted in the continuous pushback from states like Texas and people like Ken Paxton, who want to get rid of a program that has only been beneficial to the state and the country."

Rodriguez said she is on track to graduate in 2020 and that her "life is at stake."

Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia joined Texas in the lawsuit and today's request for an injunction.

Stephanie Federico is a digital news editor at Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @steph_federico.
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