The Southern Poverty Law Center this week denounced a letter signed by 10 state attorneys general as “cruel and heartless” because it asks the Department of Justice to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Under DACA, which was created by the Obama administration, the federal government has granted reprieves from deportation to nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children.
“Attorneys general from 10 states are egging the federal government on to be more cruel and heartless in its approach to immigration,” said Naomi Tsu, SPLC deputy legal director. “The letter requests that the Department of Justice revoke protections for immigrant youth and begin targeting for deportation these young people who have grown up as Americans.
“These attacks will prevent children, many of whom know no other home, from working legally and reaching their full potential. If the Trump administration follows through on this request, they will be responsible for further pushing immigrant communities underground, making communities less safe, less prosperous and more divided.”
The 10 state attorneys general who signed the letter are Steve Marshall of Alabama, Leslie Rutledge of Arkansas, Lawrence G. Wasden of Idaho, Derek Schmidt of Kansas, Jeff Landry of Louisiana, Doug Peterson of Nebraska, Alan Wilson of South Carolina, Ken Paxton of Texas, Herbert Slatery III of Tennessee, and Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia.
Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter also signed the letter.
The SPLC has fought for young immigrants in danger of being deported, in spite of DACA. In March, the SPLC, along with others, won the release of Daniela Vargas from the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Vargas, a 22-year-old DACA recipient, was detained by ICE agents shortly after speaking at a Jackson, Mississippi, press conference on March 1 about her hope that she and other young immigrants could remain in the United States and contribute to the country they’ve long called home.
The SPLC and others filed court papers seeking the immediate release of Vargas, who was brought to the United States from Argentina at age 7.