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Vermont Joins Multi-State Lawsuit Challenging Trump On DACA

Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan, pictured here in Montpelier in January, has joined a lawsuit aimed at preventing President Donald Trump from rescinding DACA. We're talking to him about that decision.
Peter Hirschfeld
VPR file
Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan has joined a lawsuit aimed at preventing President Trump from rescinding DACA.

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan has joined a multi-state suit that seeks to prevent President Donald Trump from rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that has protected young immigrants from deportation.

The lawsuit, led by New York Attorney General Schneiderman, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York Wednesday afternoon.

The Republican president announced his intention to rescind the program, known as DACA, on Tuesday. It was created through an executive order by former President Barack Obama in 2012. Under the Trump administration’s plan, nearly 800,000 people who were brought to the U.S. by their parents or guardians could be deported beginning March 5, 2018.

In Vermont, 42 residents have received work permits and legal status in the U.S. though DACA. Vermont’s congressional delegation and Republican Gov. Phil Scott said they hope Congress will pass legislation to preserve the program.

The lawsuit argues that the Trump Administration is violating due process rights by rescinding the program, harms states’ residents, institutions and economies and violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution by discriminating against those of Mexican origin because they account for 78 percent of the people who are part of the DACA program.

“Ending DACA, whose participants are mostly of Mexican origin, is a culmination of President’s Trump’s oft-stated commitments — whether personally held, stated to appease some portion of his constituency, or some combination thereof — to punish and disparage people with Mexican roots,” the suit reads.

Scott said at his weekly news conference Wednesday before Donovan announced the suit that he would consider having the state join a multi-state legal effort to save DACA.

“We would look into it. I’m not sure about the basis, but I’d look to the attorney general for advice. We’ll work together,” the governor said.

He also reiterated his hope that Congress act.

“That’s an unfortunate situation and that’s not a path that I would have recommended to the president, but that’s the path he took. Now it’s in the hands of Congress. They have what appears to be six months to react,” Scott said. “We’ll do some outreach. Hopefully they’ll come to some conclusion and do the right thing for the kids that are here. We need them.”

Neal is a a reporter for the Vermont Press Bureau. He also files reports for Vermont Public Radio.
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