NY Attorney General Letitia James Fights to Protect DACA for Immigrants
NEW YORK, New York – New York Attorney General, Letitia James, has co-led a coalition of 22 attorneys general in pushing back against the ongoing effort by Texas to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for immigrants.
In the amicus brief filed before the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, the coalition asserts the “critical importance” of DACA for states across the country and the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers and their families who depend on the program.
The action is part of James’ ongoing effort to protect DACA, including her defense of the program in the US Supreme Court.
According to the National Immigration Forum (NIF), a Dreamer is an undocumented immigrant who came to the United States as a child. It said DACA is a deferred action policy implemented by the Obama administratio9n policy in June 2012 that is aimed at protecting Dreamers.
NIF said DACA is not lawful status nor does it provide the opportunity for Dreamers to stay permanently, but temporarily shields Dreamers from deportation and provides them work authorization with possible renewal every two years.
There are as many as 3.6 million Dreamers residing in the United States, but only about 610,000 of them are currently protected under DACA, NIF said, adding that the average DACA recipient arrived in the United States at age seven and has lived here for more than 20 years.
“Every American, no matter their immigration status, deserves a chance to achieve the American Dream. For thousands of New Yorkers who have known no other home than our welcoming state, DACA has meant they are able to stay with us and contribute to our communities,” James said.
“When other states try to tear down this successful program, they are trying to rip families apart and remove New Yorkers from our state, and that I will not allow. I will continue to fight for all New Yorkers, and I am proud to lead my colleague attorneys general in this must-win effort,” she added.
The New York Attorney General said DACA has allowed recipients to live, study, and work across the United States free from the fear of being forcibly separated from their families and communities.
Since 2012, she said more than 825,000 young immigrants have been granted DACA protections after completing applications and passing a background check, including nearly 41,000 New Yorkers.
James said Dreamers come from almost every country in the world, but many have never known any home other than the United States and that the programme has enabled hundreds of thousands to enroll in colleges and universities; start businesses that help improve the economy; serve in the military; and give back to communities as teachers, medical professionals, engineers, and entrepreneurs.
“These contributions became even more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic as tens of thousands of DACA recipients continued to serve their communities as essential workers and frontline healthcare professionals,” James said, adding “DACA plays a vital role in supporting our economies at the national, state, and local level.
“DACA recipients and their households are estimated to contribute approximately US$9.5 billion in federal, state, and local taxes each year. A full rollback of DACA — as being pushed for by Texas and its allies — is projected to result in a loss of an estimated US$280 billion in national economic growth over the course of a decade.”
The New York Attorney General said it would also lead to an estimated loss of US$33.1 billion in Social Security contributions and US$7.7 billion in Medicare contributions.
In the amicus brief, James and her colleagues assert that DACA recipients are vital to their communities, public universities, and economies and that DACA enhances public safety and reduces the strain on social safety net programs.
They raise the concern that any abrupt termination of DACA would harm recipients and their communities, and any remedy ordered by the court must account for the fact that DACA recipients, and their states and communities, have relied on the program for over a decade.