TOPEKA – (June 18, 2018) – Kansas has asked to join in a legal challenge to an immigration-related program established without approval of Congress by the Obama administration, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Gov. Jeff Colyer announced today.
Kansas has moved to join as a plaintiff in the Texas-led, 10-state challenge to the legality of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Texas filed the lawsuit in May, and Kansas joined last week after Congress failed for months to address the status of the “Dreamers” - migrants brought unlawfully to the United States as children through no fault of their own.
Gov. Colyer asked the attorney general to join in the legal challenge.
“The nation is still suffering from the effects of the Obama administration’s complete disregard for the rule of law and constitutional checks and balances,” Colyer said. “We fought back successfully on issues like Waters of the U.S. and the Lesser Prairie Chicken, and this new lawsuit continues our efforts to roll back the executive overreach of the Obama era.”
Schmidt said he had delayed in hope Congress would step up and address the situation, bringing clarity to what should be done. But Congress has so far failed to do so.
“We have waited for Congress as long as we could,” Schmidt said. “But with congressional inaction, we must enforce the law as it is. Under our Constitution, no president has the authority to unilaterally rewrite or suspend the law. Perhaps a successful lawsuit will help motivate Congress finally to fix this mess. I hope so.”
In 2014, Kansas joined in a successful legal challenge to other parts of President Obama’s unilateral immigration executive actions. A federal court in Texas found the president’s 2014 expansion of DACA and a related program, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), to be unlawful. That finding was sustained by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and in 2016 was left intact by an equally divided U.S. Supreme Court before Justice Neil Gorsuch was appointed.
In response to that court case, the Trump Administration concluded DACA similarly was unlawfully created without congressional authority and announced plans to rescind it while simultaneously asking Congress to address the matter. But DACA supporters filed suit, and courts in California and other states blocked the administration’s rollback of the program.
The result, Schmidt said, is a legal and political morass.
“The ‘Dreamers’ are a sympathetic group, but only Congress has authority to help them,” Schmidt said. “President Obama's decision to ignore the law and rule by decree resulted in the cruel illusion of a DACA program that cannot lawfully exist. Surely the government can – indeed, must – stop operating a program that was illegally created in the first place.”
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice told the Texas court it agrees with the states that DACA is illegal in the absence of authorization from Congress.
The case is captioned State of Texas, et al. v. United States, Case No. 1:18-cv-68, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Brownsville Division. A copy of the states’ lawsuit is available at https://bit.ly/2MxqtlQ.