US immigration

Lawsuit against Donald Trump’s ‘racist’ plan to stop DACA protections for US immigrants will go ahead

A federal judge ruled that plaintiffs may argue that the move to end the programme was driven by unlawful racial animus

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 March, 2018, 6:11am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 March, 2018, 6:21am

A lawsuit opposing US President Donald Trump’s plan to end protections for some children of undocumented immigrants may go forward, after a federal judge said there was a “plausible inference” that the programme was illegally aimed at Mexicans.

US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis had previously blocked the government from moving to deport those covered under the programme, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, but had not decided whether to allow the case to proceed.

On Thursday, Garaufis narrowed the suit but did not dismiss it. 

He said the plaintiffs may proceed with a claim that Trump’s policy was driven by unlawful racial animus against Latinos, and in particular, Mexicans, who make up about 78 per cent of the programme.

“Although the use of racial slurs, epithets, or other racially charged language does not violate equal protection”, Garaufis, a judge in the Eastern District of New York, in Brooklyn, wrote, “it can be evidence that official action was motivated by unlawful discriminatory purposes”.

The Trump administration argued that the claim should be dismissed because there wasn’t any evidence of any such motivation.

But the plaintiffs, including New York State and 15 state attorneys general as well as the District of Columbia, cited statements Trump has made describing Mexicans as “thugs”, “animals” and “bad hombres”.

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DACA was created in 2012 under then-President Barack Obama to give those migrants brought to the US illegally as children the temporary right to live, study and work in the country should they pass vetting for any criminal history or security threat. 

If they pass vetting, action to deport them is deferred for two years, with a chance to renew, and they become eligible for items including driving licenses, college enrollment or work permits. An estimated 800,000 applicants enrolled in the plan.  

In September 2017, Trump announced he would phase it out if Congress didn’t act within six months to pass more comprehensive legislation.