Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, under the auspices of Gov. Dannel Malloy, has joined 14 states and the District of Columbia in a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s decision last week to discontinue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
DACA, which was introduced in 2012 by former President Barack Obama, prevented an estimated 800,000 undocumented young adults who came to the United States as minors from deportation. It also allowed those who qualified under DACA to receive work authorizations and have a source of income.
Trump’s announcement to rescind DACA not only provoked outrage among immigrant rights activists, but also led to concerns about destabilizing state economies, among other issues. The joint lawsuit argues that Trump’s decision would disproportionately affect residents of Mexican descent and that it would be potentially injurious to state interests.
“Ending DACA, whose participants are mostly of Mexican origin, is a culmination of President’s 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 joint lawsuit read.
In a Sept. 6 press release on the legal action, Malloy reaffirmed Connecticut’s commitment to protecting its more than 10,000 DACA-eligible residents who have spent nearly all their lives in the U.S. These individuals, Malloy said in his statement, play a great role in the state labor force and benefit communities with their education and talents.
As a plaintiff in the lawsuit, Connecticut wrote that stripping DACA recipients of their ability to work legally will lead to greater unemployment and reduced tax revenue for the state. Connecticut is currently struggling to pass a balanced budget for the fiscal year 2018.
Echoing Malloy’s sentiment, Jepsen said these DACA recipients are integral members of families and neighborhoods around the state whose lives are “needlessly and cruelly threatened” by Trump’s determination to overturn the program.
“For many, America is the only home they have ever really known, and they are proud to work and contribute to its success,” Jepsen said in a press release.“We believe that President Trump has acted unlawfully in stripping DACA protection from those who have followed the rules laid out for them and structured their lives in reliance on the protections they were promised.”
Executive Director of the New Haven Legal Assistance Association Alexis Smith highlighted the ramifications that rescinding DACA would have on families. Smith said her organization partners with other local groups to help eligible individuals obtain DACA status and counsels these recipients about the renewal process to retain their legal paperwork.
Smith said it is still hard to predict if the plaintiff states might win, but she noted that there is overwhelming support for families that have been affected by the presidential decision.
She added that Connecticut has always been inclusive and a place where all are welcome, citing as an example Malloy’s dedication to maintaining the state as a sanctuary from federal immigration authorities.
“Our greatest fear is that people won’t participate in society and parents will fear sending their kids to school,” Smith said. “They may fail to take care of basic things that they need such as medical treatment and even going to work.”
Henry Rosas Ibarra ’21, a child of a DACA recipient, expressed similar fears. Rosas said his mother, who received her DACA permit in 2013, mainly benefited from the legal status as a form of a safety guarantee.
He added that he is frustrated that being away from home at college meant he was unable to support his family members when they needed it the most. He was especially concerned that his younger sister would have to face the fears that he struggled with in the past regarding their mother’s status and potential deportation.
“This lawsuit shows the support that the state has for individuals, and hopefully this support turns into positive legislation,” he said. “Supporting this act seems like an act of symbolism as opposed to something practical.”
Certain DACA recipients may face deportation as early as March 2018.
Contact Amy Cheng at firstname.lastname@example.org and Isha Dalal at email@example.com .