For some states, the Trump administration's hallmark — an anti-immigrant agenda of ramped-up deportations and a border wall — just isn't enough. But, at least on one account, Arizona is breaking from the pack.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, along with over a dozen other attorneys general, declined to sign off on a plan by Texas and other Republican-dominated states to sue the Trump administration if it doesn’t drop a program that shields undocumented young people from deportation.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program halts deportations against undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children, also known as Dreamers. But now, the attorneys general of Texas and nine other states want it gone.
Last month, they told the Trump administration in a letter to end DACA before September 5, or they will add their grievance to a pending lawsuit against other Obama-era immigration programs.
Ryan Anderson, a spokesman for Brnovich, said in an email to Phoenix New Times, "Arizona will continue to enforce federal and state immigration laws. We are also hopeful that, with continued urging from the President and their constituents, the members of Congress will take appropriate action that will set clear legal principles and preclude the need for future litigation."
The initial lawsuit targeted the 2014 Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which protects parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents from deportation, and an expanded version of DACA. The Trump administration has since ended DAPA — which had been on hold because of a federal court ruling — and the expansion of DACA.
The list of states in favor of ending DACA altogether signals a divide. On the letter to the administration are the attorneys general of Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia (plus the governor of Idaho). But Arizona and 15 other states that were a party to the initial lawsuit defected; Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin, among others, all neglected to sign the letter.
And it speaks to a bigger question: Who’s willing to be to the right of Trump on immigration?
Despite Trump's recent pledge that Dreamers can "rest easy," federal data obtained by VICE News indicates that DACA revocations have increased sharply under Trump. Yet Trump's promise (though we know how much those are worth) not to deport DACA recipients clearly has riled up the hardline, anti-immigrant states in the Texas coalition.
James Garcia, the director of communications and public policy for the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, told New Times last week that the economy could benefit from accommodating DACA recipients who want to work, study, and advance their career in Arizona; by contrast, dismantling DACA would throw their lives into chaos.
“You have literally hundreds of thousands of young people in this country and tens of thousands in the state of Arizona who qualify for DACA who would be affected," he said. "And who would benefit from a Dream Act proposal that we hope would ultimately grant them citizenship.”
Although he declined to support the Texan effort to push the Trump administration, generally speaking, Brnovich is no advocate for young undocumented immigrants.
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Recently, his chief of staff asked the Arizona Board of Regents for an explanation of how in-state tuition for DACA recipients is not a violation of state law. Maricopa County Colleges will appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court in the in-state tuition case next month.
Anderson, Brnovich's spokesman, said regarding the tuition litigation, "We are presently reviewing the recent action by the Arizona Board of Regents regarding DACA tuition and therefore will not speculate on this specific matter."
Below, you can read the letter to the Trump administration from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and the other states.