Attorney General Bonta, Multistate Coalition Push Back Against Ongoing Effort to End DACA

Friday, March 10, 2023
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Coalition reiterates the critical importance of DACA for states across the country and the hundreds of thousands of law-abiding individuals who depend on it

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today co-led a coalition of 22 attorneys general in an amicus brief pushing back against the ongoing, misguided effort led by Texas to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In the friend-of-the-court brief filed before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, the coalition reiterates the critical importance of DACA for states across the country and the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers and their families who depend on the program, including the more than 240,000 Californians who have directly benefitted from DACA.

“In California, we value all of our residents,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Dreamers, DACA recipients, immigrants — all are welcome in our state. Unlike some in Texas, we know our state is stronger because of the contributions of our immigrant communities. DACA is critical to our economies and neighborhoods, our businesses and schools. Any attempt to abruptly end DACA is dangerous and irresponsible. Hundreds of thousands of people and their families all across the country rely on DACA. I urge the district court to tread with care: people’s lives are at stake.”

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. Since 2012, more than 825,000 young immigrants have been granted DACA protections after completing applications and passing a background check. Dreamers come from almost every country in the world, but many have never known any home other than the United States. The program has enabled hundreds of thousands of grantees to enroll in colleges and universities; start businesses that help improve our economy; serve in the military; and give back to our communities as teachers, medical professionals, engineers, and entrepreneurs. These contributions became even more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic as tens of thousands of DACA recipients continued to serve their communities as essential workers and frontline healthcare professionals. 

DACA plays a vital role in supporting our economies at the national, state, and local level. DACA recipients and their households are estimated to contribute approximately $9.5 billion in federal, state, and local taxes each year. A full rollback of DACA — as being pushed for by Texas and its allies — is projected to result in a loss of an estimated $280 billion in national economic growth over the course of a decade. It 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 these national programs upon which people across the country rely. In addition, the spending power of DACA recipients — estimated at $25.3 billion annually — also contributes substantially to the overall economic health of the nation. DACA recipients own homes, make mortgage payments, own small businesses, and help support the creation of new jobs. 

In the amicus brief, the coalition reiterates that:

  • DACA recipients are vital to amici states’ communities, public universities, and economies;
  • DACA enhances public safety and reduces the strain on social safety net programs;
  • Amici states have structured their laws and regulations in reliance on DACA and the benefits it confers;
  • Abrupt termination of DACA would disrupt and harm DACA recipients and amici states; and
  • Any remedy in this case must account for the significant reasonable reliance interests of DACA recipients and their states and communities.

California remains committed to fighting for the rights of its immigrant communities and has long been at the forefront of the effort to defend DACA. In 2021, Attorney General Bonta led a multistate coalition in an amicus brief pushing back on Texas’ earlier efforts to end DACA. He also led a multistate effort in support of the federal government’s work to preserve and fortify DACA through regulatory action. In 2018, California secured the first injunction against the Trump Administration’s efforts to rescind DACA, and successfully defended the program before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2020. In California, Attorney General Bonta successfully secured a unanimous California Supreme Court decision earlier this year to help protect immigrant defendants against prejudicial error in the criminal legal system. In 2022, the Attorney General successfully blocked an Arizona-led effort to revive litigation over the Trump-era public charge rule. He also led a multistate amicus brief pushing back on attempts by a for-profit prison operator to evade minimum wage laws for people who worked for the company while in civil immigration confinement.

In filing the amicus brief, Attorney General Bonta is joined by the attorneys general of New York, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin.

A copy of the amicus brief is available here.

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