WASHINGTON, D.C. — The University of California sued the Trump administration on Friday in a challenge to the decision to end DACA, a program that allows young, undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States.
The lawsuit is the first to be filed by a university in an effort to retain the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Earlier this week, the Trump administration announced that it was rescinding the Obama-era executive order that established the program, although it won’t be phased out for another six months to give Congress time to act to save it through legislation.
“Neither I, nor the University of California, take the step of suing the federal government lightly, especially not the very agency that I led,” said Janet Napolitano, the president of the University of California, who created the program in 2012 when she was serving as the Secretary of Homeland Security.
“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.”
UC accused the Trump administration of rescinding the program on “nothing more than unreasoned executive whim.” The lawsuit was filed in California against the Department of Homeland Security and Elaine Duke, who is the acting secretary.
The program allowed those who came to the United States before age 16, including many with their undocumented parents, to remain in the country under a set of conditions. About 800,000 individuals are affected, and UC has about 4,000 undocumented students. It said that a “substantial number” of those undocumented students are in the DACA program, along with teachers, researchers, and health care workers.
The UC argues that the“capricious recession” of the program violates the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, as well as the Administrative Procedure Act. UC is offering legal services to the undocumented immigrants.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security said that they do not comment on pending litigation. But in announcing an end to the program, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that it was based on an unconstitutional executive order that circumvented the authority of Congress.
The day after his announcement, a group of attorneys general from 15 states and the District of Columbia filed suit to stop the Trump administration from ending the program, and said that it unfairly targeted Mexican immigrants.