Courts & Corrections

Vermont joins suit to preserve DACA from Trump action

DACA Press Conference
Dozens of lawmakers, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., gather Wednesday at the Capitol to call for a vote on immigration legislation. Photo by Elizabeth Hewitt/VTDigger

WASHINGTON — The Vermont attorney general has signed on to a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s plan to terminate an Obama-era program that shields some unauthorized immigrants from deportation.

Attorneys general from 15 states and Washington, D.C., are part of the suit, which was filed in federal court in New York on Wednesday — one day after the administration announced intentions to “wind down” the program in six months.

Almost 800,000 unauthorized immigrants who arrived in the United States as children have received work visas and exemption from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

President Barack Obama created DACA by executive order in 2012.

The lawsuit, spearheaded by attorneys general from New York, Washington and Massachusetts, argues that the termination of the program would violate due process rights and harm states’ economies.

It also contends the action discriminates against DACA grantees of Mexican origin, who represent more than three-quarters of the population affected by the program.

Ending DACA, the court filing states, “is a culmination of President Trump’s oft-stated commitments — whether personally held, stated to appease some portion of his constituency, or some combination thereof — to punish and disparage people with Mexican roots.”

The lawsuit argues that rescinding DACA harms Vermont’s proprietary interests and impacts Vermont families and businesses.

There are 42 DACA grantees in Vermont, according to federal data. The lawsuit argues that Vermont could stand to lose $2.4 million in gross domestic product with the termination of the program.

The administration’s decision to end the program was widely condemned by those on the left, including all three members of Vermont’s congressional delegation.

On Wednesday morning, Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., were among dozens of lawmakers who gathered to call on Republican leadership to bring forward legislation establishing DACA permanently in law.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has also voiced support for passing legislation making the program permanent.

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Elizabeth Hewitt

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