For Immediate Release - September 06, 2017

AG Healey Sues Trump Administration to Defend DACA Program

Files Lawsuit to Protect Thousands of Young People in Massachusetts

BOSTON – Standing up for the hundreds of thousands of young people who call America their home, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration following the announcement that it intends to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).

The complaint, filed this afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, is being led by AG Healey, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and filed by a total of 16 attorneys general: New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.

Today’s lawsuit challenges President Trump and the federal government’s attempt to rescind a successful program that has benefitted 800,000 young people across the country by allowing them to work legally, acquire driver’s licenses, open bank accounts, access lines of credit, purchase homes and cars, attend college, pay taxes, and obtain employer-based health insurance. These young people now face immediate risks, including the loss of these benefits and possible deportation.

“Dreamers are Americans. They go to our schools, serve in our military, work and start businesses in our communities,” AG Healey said. “We will not allow President Trump to betray these young people. Today, I’m joining with state attorneys general from across the country to defend the rights of Dreamers and the promises our government made to them.” 

According to the complaint, Massachusetts is home to more than one million immigrants, including nearly 20,000 DACA-eligible residents. As of March 31, 2017, nearly 8,000 DACA applications had been approved. Since 2012, DACA status allows these young people to live, study, and work openly without fear of arrest or deportation. On Sept. 5, 2017, President Trump issued a Memorandum ending DACA, bringing many of these protections to an end, and exposing these individuals to deportation when their authorization expires.

Today’s court filings also include declarations from world-leading colleges and universities in Massachusetts that rely heavily on immigrants who bring talent, knowledge, and expertise to academic communities, and to the Massachusetts labor force. Rescinding DACA will undermine the educational mission of these academic institutions and their workforce development goals.

“Our DACA students, who are pursuing their education, working, and contributing to a community and country they have called home since they were small children, have already had their education disrupted,” said UMass President Marty Meehan. “This decision was announced on the day that many of them started classes. Their education, future employment opportunities, and mental and emotional health are all at risk. I applaud Attorney General Healey for taking action on their behalf.”

“We’re proud to join with the Attorney General and other supporters of DACA in opposing the program’s termination,” said Tufts University President Anthony P. Monaco. “DACA provides deserving young people with the chance to pursue a college education, and we should continue to back them with our unequivocal support so they can realize the opportunity that they well deserve.”

“I recognize that this is a time of anxiety and frustration for the members of our community who are undocumented, many of whom have known no home country other than the United States,” said Harvard University President Drew Faust in letter to the Harvard community yesterday. “These individuals contribute to our community in outstanding and innumerable ways, and we are dedicated, at this time of deep uncertainty, to ensuring their inclusion and full engagement with university life.”

Rescinding DACA will also hurt the Massachusetts economy. According to the AG’s complaint, stripping DACA grantees of the ability to work legally will cause many to lose their jobs, resulting, among other things, in less tax revenue for the state. According to one estimate, DACA-eligible residents contribute approximately $24 million annually in state and local taxes in Massachusetts—a contribution that may drop by $9 million without DACA. Another estimate suggests that ending DACA would, over a 10-year period, cost the Massachusetts economy $258 million in lost tax revenue and nearly $925 million overall. 

Today’s lawsuit alleges that the individuals who have relied on DACA are now more vulnerable to removal than before the program was initiated, after turning over sensitive information to federal agencies in their applications, information now controlled by the Trump administration. The attorneys general are also seeking to hold the Trump administration to the government’s earlier promises to Dreamers and prevent it from misusing application information.

The AG’s complaint can be found here.

This case is being handled for Massachusetts by AG Healey’s Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau Chief Jonathan Miller, Civil Rights Division Chief Genevieve Nadeau, and Assistant Attorney General Abigail Taylor of AG Healey’s Child & Youth Protection Unit, with assistance from State Solicitor Bessie Dewar and Assistant Attorneys General Andrew Haile, Kimberly Strovink, Jon Burke, and Jennifer Snow.