In the 46-page suit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco just after midnight, the so-called Dreamers claimed Trump’s decision to phase out the DACA program over the next six months “was motivated by unconstitutional bias against Mexicans and Latinos.”
The federal DACA program shields from deportation nearly 800,000 immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, providing recipients with renewable two-year work permits.
The lawsuit seeks to block the Trump administration from ending the program.
The Dreamers argue that the government, in asking the program’s vulnerable applicants to identify themselves and undergo background checks in exchange for protection to live and work in the United States, was engaging in an “unconstitutional bait-and-switch” and that terminating the DACA program breaks the government’s promises to them.
“The DACA program has meant not living in fear, and the opportunity to graduate from law school and build a business,” Dulce Garcia, one of the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “And despite the administration’s cruel choice to end DACA, we know that our American dream shouldn’t have an expiration date.”
Garcia, a San Diego attorney, was brought to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 4, according to the lawsuit.
The other plaintiffs include two middle school teachers, a UC San Francisco medical student who is working on a public health degree from Harvard, a Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, and a law student at UC Irvine. Five of the plaintiffs, according to the lawsuit, were brought to the U.S. from Mexico between the ages of 1 and 6, and one was brought to the U.S. from Thailand at the age of 9.
The suit says that when DACA was first launched in 2012, the government vigorously promoted it, encouraging young people — many of whom were skeptical about identifying themselves — to apply for the program and stated that the information they provided about themselves or family members would not be used for immigration enforcement purposes, absent special circumstances.
That the government made such promises to young immigrants, only to revoke them, violates their constitutional due process rights, the plaintiffs allege.
The Dreamers say that with their sensitive personal information provided to the federal government no longer protected from disclosure, DACA recipients “face the imminent risk” that that information could be used against them at any time, without notice, and that they could be deported.
The lawsuit alleges Trump was moved to end the program because of animus toward Latinos, especially those from Mexico, who make up the vast majority of DACA applicants. Such a motivation, the suit alleges, violates constitutional equal protection guarantees.
Trump’s “statements and actions reflect a pattern of bias against Mexicans and Latinos,” the suit states. It references Trump’s assertion last year that a federal judge presiding over a lawsuit against Trump University was biased because he was Latino and his pardoning last month of Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff in Arizona who had been convicted of criminal contempt for defying a court order to end racial profiling of Latinos.
The suit also quotes numerous tweets from the president that reference “anchor babies” and claim that “druggies, drug dealers, rapists and killers are coming across the southern border.”