Time is running out for President Donald Trump to decide how he will deal with DACA, a program introduced by the Obama administration to allow immigrants who were illegally brought into the U.S. as children to stay.
Ten states, led by Texas, are threatening to sue the federal government if Trump does not begin the process of halting DACA by Sept. 5, Politico reported.
DACA, which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was initiated by former President Barack Obama in 2012 and has enabled around 800,000 people to obtain work permits. Initially, the program was open to immigrants in the country illegally who were aged 31 and under and who first arrived in the U.S. before they were 16.
Trump's conservative supporters have urged him to scrap the program, but the president has not indicated what he plans to do.
Trump promised during the 2016 election campaign to get rid of DACA, but has since said he wants to treat those in the program, sometimes referred to as "Dreamers," with "compassion and heart."
Stephen Legomsky, a law professor who was chief counsel at Customs and Immigration Service when Obama launched DACA, said he thought if the legal challenge is allowed to go ahead, it will likely result in DACA being abolished. He noted this would be particularly likely if Judge Andrew Hanen, who ruled against another Obama immigration program in 2014, oversees the case.
It remains unclear whether the states will be allowed to sue the government. Thomas Saenz of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund argued they would struggle to show how DACA imposes financial burdens on the states.
"They will have a hard time proving there is a net cost to DACA," Saenz said. "They benefit from work-authorized DACA recipients paying taxes, contributing to the economy in a way they could not without work authorization. All of that would have to be vetted and decided before you get to the merits."
Not all Republicans are in favor of the lawsuit. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas supports a different approach.
"I just think my objection to the way DACA was handled during the Obama administration was that it should not have been done unilaterally by the president," said Cornyn. "Congress needs to address this and I'm eager to do that. That's how I think it should be resolved."
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have drafted legislation to protect DACA.
Although many who have benefited from DACA have been celebrating its fifth anniversary, they are concerned about what will come next.
"[DACA has] helped us for a long time now," Astrid Silva, an immigration rights activist in Nevada, told the Las Vegas Sun. "We want to get everyone to celebrate it but also see what will happen next, since programs like DACA and [Temporary Protection Status] are under attack."
Sources: Politico, Las Vegas Sun / Featured Image: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Wikimedia Commons, The White House/Wikimedia Commons