New York Attorney General Letitia James today continued her fight to protect hundreds of thousands of Dreamers across New York and the rest of the nation. Co-leading a coalition of 23 attorneys general from around the nation, Attorney General James filed an amicus brief in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy in Texas v. United States, where the coalition highlights the critical contributions of hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients to public health efforts, the economy, and communities across the country — and pushes back on the Texas-led efforts to end DACA. Since 2012, DACA has provided access to work authorization and protected from removal approximately 825,000 individuals who grew up in this country, most of whom have known no home other than the United States.
“Home is here for hundreds of thousands of Dreamers who know no other home but the United States, and that has never been more evident than during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Dreamers stepped up and served on the frontlines to save millions,” said Attorney General James. “Despite Texas’ false and bigoted claims, DACA recipients are vital to our economy, vital to our communities, and vital to our way of life. We will continue to fight against these immoral threats of deportation, but the court has the opportunity here to preserve DACA and send a message that Dreamers are valued, that they are loved, and that they are crucial members of our society. Si se puede!”
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. The policy has enabled hundreds of thousands of grantees to enroll in colleges and universities, complete their education, start businesses that help improve the economy, and give back to communities as teachers, medical professionals, and entrepreneurs. These contributions became especially evident as the deadly coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic began to sweep through the nation and thousands of DACA recipients served on the frontlines as essential workers. As of November 2021, an estimated 34,000 health care workers and support staff depend on DACA for their authorization to work in the United States, including nurses, dentists, pharmacists, physician assistants, home health aides, technicians, and others.
DACA also plays a vital role in supporting economies at the national, state, and local level. For instance, DACA recipients and their households pay an estimated $9.5 billion in federal, state, and local taxes each year. Allowing new initial DACA requests would lead to an estimated increase of $2.5 billion in state and local tax revenue over the next 20 years. Additionally, DACA recipients’ estimated spending power — $25.3 billion — is important to the overall economic health of the amici states. Without DACA, national economic growth over the course of a decade is projected to fall by $280 billion. Such a scenario would also lead to an estimated loss of $33.1 billion in Social Security contributions and $7.7 billion in Medicare contributions — funds that are critical to ensuring the financial health of national programs upon which Americans across the country rely.
In the amicus brief — filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit — Attorney General James and the coalition explain, among other things that:
- DACA grantees are vital to communities, economies, and public universities;
- DACA increases public safety and decreases the strain on safety net programs;
- Abrupt termination of DACA would cause substantial disruption and harm, including to amici states;
- Any remedy in this case must account for the significant reliance interests at stake;
- Amici states have structured programs, policies, and laws in reliance of DACA and the benefits it confers; and
- The appellate court should reverse the district court’s order, which vacated and enjoined DACA, and erroneously concluded that the policy is unlawful.
After former President Donald Trump broke the promises made to Dreamers by ordering his administration to change the DACA policy in 2017, a prolonged legal battle began in September 2017 that made its way through multiple courts before landing at the U.S. Supreme Court in November 2019. During this legal battle, in 2018, Texas filed its own lawsuit, alleging DACA was unlawful. That suit has been proceeding through the courts.
After the Supreme Court ruled, the policy was supposed to resume, but the Trump Administration announced that new DACA applications would not be granted. In August 2020, Attorney General James co-led a coalition of 17 attorneys general in a lawsuit that sought to vacate, as unlawful, a memo from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that sought to make changes to DACA. In November 2020, a federal district court issued an order granting Attorney General James’ request for partial summary judgment. And, in December 2020, that same federal court issued a remedial order granting Attorney General James’ request for DHS to reopen DACA to first-time applicants, restore protections to a two-year period instead of one year, and make Advanced Parole available to DACA recipients again without restrictions.
On January 20, 2021 — on his first day in office — President Joe Biden signed an executive order rescinding the Trump Administration policy that threatened these Dreamers with deportation.
Just last month, Attorney General James co-led a coalition of 24 attorneys general in sending a comment letter to DHS and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in support of the Biden-Harris Administration's efforts to preserve and fortify the DACA policy
Joining Attorney General James in filing today’s amicus brief are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.