Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Sept. 8 that she's suing President Donald Trump's administration to fight the president's controversial decision to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Napolitano created the program in 2012 to provide work permits, deportation protections, and other benefits to undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. On Sept. 5, Trump declared that he's rescinding the program, putting 800,000 undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation.
"We are people of compassion and we are people of law," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions on behalf of Trump. "But there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws. ... The compassionate thing to do is to end the lawlessness."
Napolitano, who is now president of the University of California system, is suing the current administration, saying that it did not adhere to the protocols outlined in Administrative Procedure Act, which requires more notice as well as a public comment period before such sweeping changes can take effect.
"The administration’s approach in rescinding DACA was the opposite of reasoned decision-making and thus is unlawful," she said. "It did not assess the costs of rescinding DACA to the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers or to the schools and communities in which they live, study and work."
Nearly 4,000 students in the University of California system are estimated to be dreamers.
In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, she writes that all DACA recipients undergo a thorough vetting process in order to verify that applicants are "productive members of our communities" and pose no harm to the safety of the country.
"The government is [now] telling these young people that, as a country, we do not value their obvious worth, and that we intend to treat them no differently than a recent adult border crosser," she writes. "This is wrong, unjust, mean and legally dubious."
DACA protections last for two years, and current recipients whose work permits expire between now and March 5, 2018, can apply to renew them by Oct. 5, the HuffPost reports. Permits that expire March 6 or later will not be able to be renewed.
Although the president says that he feels compassion for dreamers, he also says the needs of American citizens must come first.
"As I’ve said before, we will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion -- but through the lawful Democratic process -- while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve," he said in a statement. "We must also have heart and compassion for unemployed, struggling, and forgotten Americans."