California, Bay Area local governments ask court to protect DACA

California and 22 other states are asking a federal appeals court to reopen a program that has enabled more than 800,000 undocumented youth to legally live and work in the United States, saying migrants have become vital to the nation. economy and society of states.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, was created by President Barack Obama in 2012 and is open to those who entered the United States before the age of 16, attended high school or have served in the military and have not committed any serious crime. President Donald Trump’s attempt to end the program was rejected by the Supreme Court in June 2020, but a Texas federal judge ruled in July that the DACA had been passed illegally and banned new entrants to the program.

In a lawsuit brought by Texas and eight other states, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, who canceled other federal immigration programs, said Obama did not invite the public for comment and acted without authorization from Congress, where legislation to enact the DACA has been repeatedly blocked. Hanen did not order the expulsion of any of the current participants, but said new applicants could not join the program.

President Biden appealed the decision to the United States’ Fifth Court of Appeals in New Orleans, likely an interim ruling before the case reached the Supreme Court. Arguments in support of California and other states, filed Wednesday, focused on state interests in preserving the program.

DACA participants “strengthen our tax bases and economies, work in our core industries, and enrich the student bodies and faculties of our public universities,” state attorneys told the appeals court. The cancellation would wreak havoc on state governments, “in addition to devastating the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and their families,” they said.

California, for example, employs nearly 300 DACA recipients in state agencies, in addition to 1,700 attending the University of California, more than 10,000 on California State University campuses. and 156,000 in community colleges, according to the brief.

Nationally, lawyers said, 343,000 DACA participants serve in “critical infrastructure,” including healthcare, food preparation and service, and education. Participants in the program pay $ 3.3 billion a year in state and local taxes, including $ 2.1 billion in the 23 states that filed the arguments, according to the court record.

Regarding the legality of the DACA, states cited the president’s and executive branch’s established authority to delay the deportation of individual undocumented immigrants, and said the same authority should protect a class of immigrants. that meet standards such as those set by Obama in 2012.

If the appeals court disagrees, states have declared that “any appeal it issues must take into account the significant dependence (on the program) … of DACA beneficiaries”, their families and communities where they live.

In a separate filing, 65 local governments in the United States, including the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, and Alameda County, urged the appeals court to fully reinstate the program. They argued that Hanen misinterpreted immigration laws and said, “DACA recipients have made (our) communities more prosperous and safer.”

“Dreamers are an integral part of our communities,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said, using a term from the Dream Act, a law that would enshrine DACA into federal law. “They are nurses, lawyers, students and our neighbors. They are on the front line of this pandemic and we count on their contribution on a daily basis.

“The dreamers made plans for the future based on the DACA promise. We owe it to them to see it through.

Bob Egelko is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @BobEgelko

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