U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona on Saturday accused the Obama administration and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions of violating due process protections in the U.S. Constitution with a January 2017 guidance urging the Department of Homeland Security to consider issuing a temporary reprieve from deportation to DACA recipients.
Flake and 14 other U.S. senators announced a lawsuit to challenge the final version of the guidance.
DACA protects from deportation those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, including: those who were granted temporary protected status to come to the country as refugees; those who entered the country as children, but later obtained lawful status or permission to remain; and individuals who were in the U.S. before March 5, 2012.
In January 2017, the Department of Homeland Security said it would begin the process of ending DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, but requested more time to adequately phase out the program.
The Trump administration offered to give Congress a six-month extension in March, but declined to extend the program for those who came to the U.S. as children.
Flake announced the lawsuit in a Sunday morning tweet, saying the Trump administration’s announcement to end DACA is discriminatory, because the decision was made without any input from congress.
“Over the last two weeks, countless Dreamers have contacted me and asked me for help. I’ve met with DACA recipients across AZ — stories of hardship and hopefulness have consistently touched my heart,” Flake said in a statement. “The #1 promise we made to the Dreamers is that we would give Congress a window to solve their dilemma.”
“I have been in close contact with congressional leaders and with the Trump Administration, most recently at the White House on Thursday, during which DACA was officially terminated. As a result of our discussions, it is clear to me that regardless of the legal issues, partisan politics or disagreements between the parties on the best path forward for DACA recipients, we all agree that what happened on Thursday was a clear abuse of power by the administration.”
“With the clear threats by the President to arbitrarily extend DACA as a method of selective deportation, our lawsuit today challenges that violation of due process. Congress must act. Our nation has always been about a call to ‘do unto others,’ and today we fulfill that fundamental promise,” Flake continued.
Flake’s attorney, Andy Barr, is a former state judge in Arizona who was the attorney for Giannecchini, a firm he helped found.
“We are here to fight back, as are the millions of immigrants who enjoy protections in our country’s laws because they live here, are employed and contribute to our society in extraordinary ways. We look forward to an expeditious resolution of our lawsuit,” Barr said in a statement.
New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington, Wisconsin, Georgia, Texas, Idaho, North Carolina, New Mexico, Arkansas, Kansas, Utah, Hawaii, California, Oregon, and Hawaii are among the states joining the lawsuit, filed on behalf of Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), the Senate’s only Asian American senator.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.