|Six years ago, the federal government invited Dreamers out of the shadows and into our society. Through the DACA program, the federal government gave Dreamers the opportunity to more fully participate in the life of this Nation – oftentimes the only country these children and young adults have ever called home.
And for six years, the State of Texas never tried to stop it. Even as Texas brought lawsuit after lawsuit challenging the actions of the Obama Administration, the State never brought a legal challenge to the DACA program.
Then, out of the blue, four months ago, Texas sued the federal government right here in the Southern District of Texas. All of a sudden, Texas decided that the federal government must immediately strip Dreamers of their protections – and expose them to risk of deportation.
And rather than pushing back, the federal government gave up. Rather than defend a program that had transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people – including more than 17,000 Dreamers in New Jersey – the federal government sided with Texas.
In New Jersey, we simply could not let that stand. If the federal government would not fight for Dreamers, then we would. As I have said many times before, when the federal government stands down, New Jersey stands up.
And I could not be prouder of our efforts today. I flew down from New Jersey this morning to show our exceptional legal team – including Rachel Wainer Apter and Ken Levine, who argued today’s motion – that I’ve got their back. And just as importantly, I wanted to show all of New Jersey’s Dreamers that I’ve got their backs, too.
I remain hopeful that the Court will uphold DACA and allow Dreamers to remain in this country. As the amicus briefs show, we have the backing of hundreds of law enforcement officials, religious organizations, and major U.S. businesses – all of whom explain how the DACA program has strengthened our country and our communities.
One final point: This morning, I sat through three hours of oral argument. I believe that the attorneys representing DOJ and Texas are fine lawyers and good people. But it’s easy to get lost in the clinical discussion of jurisdiction and standing. At the end of the day, this case is about real people.
DACA recipients are our neighbors and our friends. They attend school with us, they pray with us, they pay taxes with us. They love this country. They are as American as anyone appearing in this courtroom today. And they deserve to be treated as such.
I hope that, amidst the legal wrangling, we don’t lose sight of the very real consequences that this lawsuit could bring. The lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans hang in the balance. As long as I am the Attorney General of New Jersey, I will do whatever I can – and I will go wherever I must – to protect our Dreamers. They deserve the same opportunity to contribute to this great country that the rest of us enjoy every day. Thank you.
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