Lawyers on behalf of UC President Janet Napolitano and the UC system filed a lawsuit this morning against President Donald Trump’s administration in opposition to his decision on Tuesday to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. The lawsuit, which technically names the Department of Homeland Security and Secretary Elaine Duke as the defendants, seeks declaratory and injunctive relief — a legal action in which the court would require the administration to stop its repeal of the policy.
DACA is an Obama-era policy established in 2012 that offers certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors eligibility for work permits and deferred action on deportation for a renewable two-year period. In light of the withdrawal of DACA, Homeland Security will no longer process new applications under the policy and only renew protections for those whose status expires within six months.
Submitted to the federal court for the Northern District of California, the lawsuit claims Trump’s officials violated the constitutional right to due process and several administrative procedures by ending DACA so instantaneously.
Napolitano’s lawyers also state that Trump’s decision hurts the approximately 4,000 undocumented UC students, whose attendance at the university’s ten campuses depends on work permits from DACA, and threatens the “academic and cultural benefits” such students contribute to the UC system.
“As a result of Defendants’ actions, the Dreamers face expulsion from the only country that they call home, based on nothing more than unreasoned executive whim,” the lawsuit reads. “The University faces the loss of vital members of its community, students and employees. It is hard to imagine a decision less reasoned, more damaging, or undertaken with less care.”
The lawsuit goes on to reference Napolitano’s role in creating DACA as secretary of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2013 and alleges that the Trump administration’s reasoning for ending DACA is “insufficient”, as the administration only highlighted the illegality of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which is a different policy entirely, and did not address DACA itself.
“Neither I, nor the University of California, take the step of suing the federal government lightly, especially not the very agency that I led,” Napolitano said in a statement released regarding the lawsuit. “It is imperative, however, that we stand up for these vital members of the UC community. They represent the best of who we are — hard working, resilient and motivated high achievers.”
On Tuesday, both the UC Regents and UCSD Chancellor Khosla sent out separate statements condemning the elimination of DACA and calling on Congress to pass legislation permanently continuing DACA.