TRENTON – Acting to protect thousands of New Jersey Dreamers from possible deportation, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today asked a federal court to allow New Jersey to intervene as a defendant in a Texas-led lawsuit aimed at ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“Dreamers are as American as those of us who were born here, and we’ll do everything we can to protect them,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Unfortunately, the State of Texas has brought a lawsuit to force the federal government to end protections for Dreamers, an action that would put 17,000 New Jersey residents at risk of deportation. Typically, the U.S. Department of Justice would be responsible for defending DACA from this type of Texas-led lawsuit, but given everything going on in Washington these days, it’s clear that New Jersey needs to step in to protect the interests of Dreamers in our state and across the country.”
The Trump Administration announced its intention to end DACA in 2017, but has been enjoined by several courts from doing so. Recently, Texas and six other states filed a lawsuit in federal court in the Southern District of Texas arguing that DACA is illegal, because it was created without Congressional action. The suit seeks an injunction halting the issuance or renewal of future DACA permits, and seeks an order directing the federal government to implement its plan to end DACA.
In a brief filed with the federal court in Texas today, Attorney General Grewal asserts that New Jersey should be granted Intervenor status because, “A termination of DACA will directly harm New Jersey and its residents, whose health and well-being the State has a duty to protect.”
Among those filing declarations with the court in support of New Jersey’s motion were Robert L. Barchi, President of Rutgers University, and several Dreamers who live and work in New Jersey.
Among other points, New Jersey’s brief argues that the State has a proprietary interest in ensuring the “continued operation and vitality” of state agencies that employ DACA grantees. The brief also notes that New Jersey has a strong interest in protecting its state treasury “which benefits from the economic contributions and state and local taxes of DACA grantees,” and in maintaining “strong public colleges and universities.”
“Without the ability to work to support themselves, many DACA students may be forced to drop out of school without finishing their degrees,” the brief argues. “That would cost New Jersey’s public educational institutions hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost tuition revenue.”
New Jersey is home to an estimated 53,000 DACA-eligible residents and a total of 17,400 current, active DACA grantees.
Approximately 15,900 DACA grantees in New Jersey are currently employed, more than 900 own their own businesses, 7,800 are in school, 5,600 are pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s or professional degree, and 12,650 have an American citizen sibling, spouse or child.
According to the State’s brief, one recent study placed the spending power of DACA-eligible individuals in New Jersey at an estimated $679.7 million. If DACA were terminated, the brief contends, New Jersey would lose an estimated $19 million per year in tax revenues.
In addition, a variety of harms to the “health and well-being” of New Jersey residents are likely to flow from eliminating DACA including financial instability for many households, families being torn apart, and fear of deportation resulting in some Dreamers not seeking necessary medical care or not reporting criminal activity they may have witnessed.
“Dreamers are entrepreneurs, wage earners and taxpayers,” said Attorney General Grewal. “They have careers, own homes and cars, and have U.S. citizen children, siblings and spouses. We are on the side of right in this matter, because DACA is lawful, and we can point to a multitude of ways in which ending the program will cause the State significant harm.”
The case is being led by Assistant Attorney General Rachel Wainer Apter, who serves as Counsel to the Attorney General, with the Motion to Intervene filed by Ms. Apter and Deputy Attorneys General Kenneth S. Levine and Paul H. Juzdan of the Department’s Division of Law.
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