New York, Washington state vow to sue Trump over immigrant children protections

President Donald Trump steps from Air Force One
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

New York and Washington state on Monday vowed to sue President Donald Trump if he scraps a program shielding from deportation immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children.

Trump is expected to announce on Tuesday that he will end the so-called Dreamers program but give the U.S. Congress six months to craft legislation to replace it, according to sources familiar with the situation.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a joint statement with the state's attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, said "the president's action would upend the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people who have only ever called America their home."

In a separate statement, the attorney general of Washington state, Bob Ferguson, also threatened legal action. "I will use all the legal tools at my disposal to defend the thousands of Dreamers in Washington state," he said in a statement.

Ferguson and Schneiderman were among 20 attorneys general who wrote to Trump in July to tell him that if he ended the program, they would defend it "by all appropriate means."

Nine Republican state attorneys general have said they would file suit on Tuesday if Trump did not end the program.

The White House declined to comment on Monday.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is an Obama administration policy that protects nearly 800,000 young people, often called "Dreamers," from deportation and allows them to work legally.

Under the shift Trump is considering, any Dreamer with a valid work permit would be able to remain in the United States until the permit expires, in the absence of congressional action, sources familiar with the matter said.

At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security would not target Dreamers for deportation, one of the sources said.

Dreamers are a fraction of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, most of them Hispanic. Trump as a candidate promised to deport all of them, but many Americans have rallied to support the young adults, who have spent large parts of their lives in the United States.

While Republicans in Congress have generally taken a hard line on illegal immigration and are sympathetic to the argument that Obama overstepped his bounds in creating DACA, several have stepped forward to call for action to protect the Dreamers.

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday urged Trump not to rescind the program, as did Republican Senator Orrin Hatch. Republican Senator James Lankford said on Monday it was not appropriate to "hold children legally accountable for the actions of their parents."

Republican Senator Tom Cotton, who has been particularly outspoken on reforming immigration laws, told the Washington Examiner he supports legislation that would protect dreamers and
take legal steps to reduce illegal immigration.

Many prominent business leaders, including Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella, General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have also urged Trump not to reverse the Dreamer program.