One day after Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin told a crowd at the Segue Institute in Central Falls that he intended to file a legal challenge against President Trump for rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the Attorney General joined attorneys general from 15 other states in filing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York federal District Court citing harms to the states' residents, institutions, and economies, and violates due process rights of the DREAMers.
"The President talks about having compassion for DACA grantees, but his actions prove otherwise. Compassion would have been to keep the DACA program in place, as is. By tossing the decision to a gridlocked and dysfunctional Congress, Trump knowingly puts at risk the legal protections of 800,000 individuals who have followed the rules and who are contributing members of our community," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "As I stated yesterday, President Trump has committed a moral sin on these children, and today I stand ready to argue in Court that his actions are harmful to the State of Rhode Island."
According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are approximately 5,000 DACA-eligible residents living in Rhode Island. In the lawsuit, Kilmartin cites a report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy that estimates the State will lose $2.6 million in state and local taxes if DACA protections are lost and another $61 million in annual GDP loss removing DACA grantees from the workforce, according to a report by the Center for American Progress.
"Ending DACA goes beyond the immorality of breaking a promise to these individuals, it will be a significant hit to our economy and workforce," added Kilmartin.
As the lawsuit states,
"Since 2012, DACA has allowed hundreds of thousands of young people to live, study, and work in the United States, and to become stable and even more productive members of their communities, without fear that they could be arrested and placed in deportation proceedings at any moment. Throughout the country, DACA grantees are employed by various companies and State and municipal agencies, which benefit from their skills and productivity. DACA grantees also contribute significantly to State and local revenues and tax bases. Yet, as a result of the DHS Memorandum, approximately 1,400 DACA grantees will lose their work authorization and risk termination of employment each day as their terms begin to expire. DACA recipients will lose their eligibility for public and employer-based health insurance programs that reduce the States' health expenditures and promote public health. They also will lose their right to enroll in higher education institutions with in-state admissions preferences and tuition; thus, public universities will be deprived of a means by which they enrich the experience of all students and faculty through diversity and new perspectives.
"The consequence of the President's animus-driven decision is that approximately 800,000 persons who have availed themselves of the program will ultimately lose its protections, and will be exposed to removal when their authorizations expire and they cannot seek renewal. The individuals who have relied on DACA are now more vulnerable to removal than before the program was initiated, as they turned over sensitive information to the federal government in their applications. Despite the federal government's repeated promises that it would not use such information to conduct enforcement measures, the Memorandum does not explain how the government will keep that information secure, nor does it provide any assurances that immigration enforcement agents will not use such information to find and remove those who applied for DACA.
"Rescinding DACA will cause harm to hundreds of thousands of the States' residents, injure State-run colleges and universities, upset the States' workplaces, damage the States' economies, hurt State-based companies, and disrupt the States' statutory and regulatory interests."
Outside of the legal issues, Attorney General Kilmartin cited for concern the broader, unintended consequences the President's decision will have on the immigrant community as a whole, specifically victims of crimes.
"As the chief law enforcement officers in our respective states, our priority is to protect and get justice for victims. When a victim walks into our office, we don't see 'legal' or 'illegal,' and we never ask about a person's immigration status. We only see a victim, and we do our very best to make sure every victim is protected from harm, is treated with respect and dignity, and ultimately get justice for them," added Kilmartin. "Ending DACA will have a chilling effect on the entire immigrant community, but especially victims of crimes, who may fear that coming forward will lead to deportation. I want to make sure that the immigrant community here in Rhode Island understands and can trust that they are safe coming forward to the police and our office to report a crime and that we will do all we can to protect our immigrant community from falling prey to those who may use the threat of deportation to harm them either physically or financially."