Attorneys general from 20 states sent a letter to President Donald Trump on July 21 appealing to him to defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program set up by the Obama administration.
DACA enables around 800,000 immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to temporarily remain and work in the country, HuffPost reports.
The letter, signed by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and the attorneys general of 18 other states and the District of Columbia, urges Trump to follow up on his recent statements about DACA, which have been more conciliatory than his stance during the 2016 election campaign.
"Mr. President, now is the time to affirm the commitment you made, both to the 'incredible kids' who benefit from DACA and to their families and our communities, to handle this issue 'with heart,'" the letter states. "You said Dreamers should 'rest easy.' We urge you to affirm America's values and tradition as a nation of immigrants and make clear that you will not only continue DACA, but that you will defend it. The cost of not doing so would be too high for America, the economy, and for these young people."
The attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington state also signed the letter.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois introduced a new Dream Act in Congress on July 20 in a move aimed at guaranteeing Dreamers' right to remain in the U.S., according to The Hill.
Trump extended DACA in June, but has yet to announce a final decision on the program.
"It's a decision that I make and it's a decision that's very, very hard to make," Trump said on July 12 of taking a final decision on DACA. "I really understand the situation now. I understand the situation very well. What I'd like to do is a comprehensive immigration plan. But our country and political forces are not ready yet."
According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll released on June 16, 78 percent of Americans, and 73 percent of those who voted for Trump, support allowing Dreamers to stay in the country.
Not everyone agrees, however. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton initiated a proposal on June 29 to sue the federal government if it does not abolish DACA by September, CNN reports. At the time, attorneys general from nine other states backed him.
The 20 attorneys general who addressed the July 21 letter to Trump also vowed to use their powers to defend DACA in any potential lawsuit against the federal government. DACA supporters fear that if the defense of the program is left in the hands of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an opponent of DACA, the federal government will not defend it in court, HuffPost reports.