Texas AG Paxton Now Wants to End DACA, Threatens Legal Action Against U.S.

Texas AG Paxton Now Wants to End DACA, Threatens Legal Action Against U.S.
Illustration by Brian Stauffer
To Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, it doesn't matter that the young adults now benefiting from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program were brought to the United States as small children. Or that, thanks to DACA, they can now work legally in this country and go to college without fear of deportation over something they had little to no control over while crossing the border as eight-year-olds.

Paxton is now asking the Trump administration to "phase out" DACA and stop issuing any future permits. In fact, he's actually threatening the Trump administration. If the Department of Homeland Security doesn't voluntarily comply with Paxton's wishes by September, then Paxton will try to bring down DACA in federal court.

Republican attorneys general from Kansas, Nebraska, Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, West Virginia, South Carolina and Tennessee joined him in the threat.

"We appreciate the opportunity to continue working with you, and the entire Presidential Administration, to cooperatively enforce federal immigration laws," Paxton wrote to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a letter sent yesterday.

To challenge DACA, Paxton would simply tack it onto an already existing lawsuit that's pending in federal court, one that targets Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and the expanded version of DACA. Texas successfully challenged both programs, arguing that President Barack Obama exceeded his authority with an executive order in November 2014 that created DAPA (giving work permits to parents of American children) and expanded DACA. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where justices agreed that Obama's executive order was unconstitutional. While Trump agreed earlier this month to leave the original DACA program intact, it is now very much in jeopardy.

In Texas, more than 124,000 young people's futures could be at stake.

“For years, our attorney general has pursued a misguided agenda to upend the lives of millions of immigrants in Texas, including those who were brought to this country as young children and call Texas home," Efrén C. Olivares, the racial and economic justice director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, said in a statement. "Rather than looking out for the well-being of all people in Texas, we are disappointed to see the attorney general focus his energy on attacking immigrant youth.”

The civil rights group said it is currently exploring legal options to challenge Paxton should he take DACA to court or should the U.S. government voluntarily halt the program.
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Meagan Flynn is a staff writer at the Houston Press who, despite covering criminal justice and other political squabbles in Harris County, drinks only one small cup of coffee per day.
Contact: Meagan Flynn