DACA defense: Dreamers take the Trump administration to court

The move to rescind DACA receives its first lawsuit as six DACA recipients move forward to defend former President Obama's executive action in court on the basis of violation of due process.

Joshua Roberts/Reuters
A protest supporting DACA forms in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 12, 2017.

San Diego attorney Dulce Garcia has regularly defended clients in immigration court. Now, she is the one seeking legal relief.

Brought to the United States illegally by her parents as a child, Ms. Garcia is one of six immigrants who sued the Trump administration on Monday over its decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. Since it was authorized in 2012 by former President Barack Obama, the program has provided protection from deportation and the right to work legally to nearly 800,000 young people.

Garcia's case, filed in San Francisco federal court, is the first to be brought by DACA recipients, known as Dreamers, since US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced earlier this month that the Obama-era policy would start winding down in March 2018, according to Garcia's lawyers.

It is among several lawsuits challenging the decision to end DACA, including two cases brought by state attorneys general.

The legal claims in all of the cases, including Garcia's, are similar: that the Trump administration did not follow proper administrative procedure in rescinding DACA, and that making enforcement promises to a group of people, only to revoke them, violates due process.

The Trump administration has said it is ending DACA because Mr. Obama overstepped his constitutional authority when he bypassed Congress and created the DACA program unilaterally. President Trump called on Congress to enact a law to protect DACA recipients and last week angered some of his fellow Republicans by negotiating with top congressional Democratic leaders on possible legislation.

During the 2016 presidential election Mr. Trump ran on a hardline immigration platform, promising to end DACA and strengthen border protections in order to increase jobs for US workers.

The daughter of a hotel housekeeper and a welder, Garcia arrived in Southern California from Mexico at the age of 4. A few years later, she said, her family was ousted from their apartment because the property contained illegal units.

"We were living out of my dad's truck for a little bit there," she said.

Garcia decided to become an attorney after working for a criminal defense lawyer in high school. She put herself through school working for lawyers and performing other jobs such as parking cars.

After Obama announced DACA in 2012, Garcia, now 34, seized the opportunity. When she filled out forms for a Social Security number in 2013, the government clerk congratulated her.

"I cried right there," she said.

The case on behalf of Garcia and other DACA recipients could be heard with two separately filed San Francisco DACA cases, one brought by the University of California and the other by a group of state attorneys general, led by California's Xavier Becerra. Another group of attorneys general, led by New York's Eric Schneiderman, filed a lawsuit over DACA on Sept. 6 in Brooklyn federal court.

Legal experts have said court challenges to Trump's decision could face an uphill battle because a president typically has wide authority in implementing immigration policy.

Jirayut "New" Latthivongskorn, another plaintiff in the lawsuit on Monday, was brought to the United States from Thailand when he was 9. Mr. Latthivongskorn is now a fourth year medical student at University of California San Francisco and a master's degree candidate in public health at Harvard. His DACA work authorization expires in January 2019.

His medical residency is not set to begin until a few months after that, and could be impossible if he loses his authorization to work legally.

"I have all these big ideas about how I want to change the world and change systems around health care," he said. "The fact I might not be able to get there is troubling and frustrating."

Garcia said that having to advise some of her DACA clients that there may be no help for them while at the same time trying to address her own immigration status takes a toll.

"That's a reason why I don't do exclusively immigration law," she said. "It would wear me down too fast."

This story was reported by Reuters.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to DACA defense: Dreamers take the Trump administration to court
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2017/0918/DACA-defense-Dreamers-take-the-Trump-administration-to-court
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe