August 7, 2017

WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia today filed open records requests with the federal government seeking any communications between state and federal government officials, including the office of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the White House, about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

State attorneys general and a governor from these states demanded in a 
late June letter to Attorney General Sessions that the Trump administration rescind the DACA program. The June 29 letter, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, threatens that if the administration does not agree by September 5 to end the DACA program, the states will amend an existing lawsuit in front of Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas to challenge the lawfulness of the program.

In response to the open records request filings, Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaigns at the ACLU, said, “ DACA is a successful program that has changed hundreds of thousands of young peoples lives and strengthened our nation. The American public, which strongly supports DACA, has a right to know about coordinated attempts by government officials to force the end of this constitutional and popular program.”

Since its creation five years ago, DACA has provided nearly 800,000 young immigrants protections from deportation and opportunities to live and work on a renewable, two-year basis.

Praeli said, “Given that the United States has repeatedly — and successfully — defended the legal validity of the DACA program in courts, any refusals by Attorney General Sessions’ Justice Department to defend it would require a complete reversal of the United States’ own consistent legal positions.”

State officials opposed to DACA appear to have a supportive ally in longtime opponent Attorney General Sessions. In January 2017, Sessions said in this confirmation hearing that DACA is “very questionable, in my opinion, constitutionally.” And responding to the states’ June 2017 letter, Sessions said, “I like it that our states and localities are holding the federal government to account and expecting us to do our responsibility to the state and locals, and that’s to enforce the law.”

The ACLU requests seek any communications between employees of the Offices of the Attorney General in the states that signed onto the letter and Trump administration employees in the White House, Department of Homeland Security, or Department of Justice.

As today’s request states, “it remains unclear whether the United States will maintain its defense of the DACA program. [The] statements [from Attorney General Sessions] raise serious questions regarding the United States’ commitment to defending the legality of [the] DACA program against the States’ threatened litigation, as well as questions about possible communications regarding the Texas litigation between the States and members of the Trump administration.”

The open records requests are available here:
https://www.aclu.org/other/aclu-files-open-records-requests-states-gave-...

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