The University of California filed suit against the Trump administration in federal court Friday, charging that it had harmed the school and its students when it rescinded a program that gives some protection from deportation to young people whose parents brought them to the United States illegally.
Earlier this week, the Trump administration announced it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gave some 800,000 young people provisional legal permission to live, work and study in this country. Trump called the program unconstitutional, and he challenged Congress to create a solution.
The decision reverberated because the “dreamers,” as they have become known, are a symbol to some of executive overreach exacerbating the problem of illegal immigration and to others of innocent young people trying to forge a better life in this country.
The lawsuit pits one of the program’s architects against the administration trying to dismantle it: Janet Napolitano, the president of the University of California, created DACA while serving as homeland-security secretary in the Obama administration.
It also highlights the impact of the program and the decision to end it. The University of California has about 4,000 students without legal documentation to live in the United States (many of them with DACA), as well as instructors and health-care providers who have DACA status.
It’s the first such challenge by a university. Attorneys general from 15 states and the District of Columbia filed suit earlier this week.
A Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman, Joanne Talbot, said that as a matter of policy, the agency does not comment on pending legislation.
Earlier this week, the department announced the wind-down of the program, citing a letter from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to the acting homeland security secretary, Elaine Duke, saying that DACA “was effectuated by the previous administration through executive action, without proper statutory authority and with no established end-date, after Congress’ repeated rejection of proposed legislation that would have accomplished a similar result. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch.”
Napolitano said in a statement, “Neither I, nor the University of California, take the step of suing the federal government lightly, especially not the very agency that I led.”
“It is imperative, however, that we stand up for these vital members of the UC community,” she said. “They represent the best of who we are — hard working, resilient and motivated high achievers. To arbitrarily and capriciously end the DACA program, which benefits our country as a whole, is not only unlawful, it is contrary to our national values and bad policy.”
The action sparked strong reactions online.
Read the full UC DACA complaint here: