UPDATE: This report was updated Monday Sept. 11 at 4:35 p.m. to include comments from the CSU Office of the Chancellor.
The University of California Office of the President, announced a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and its acting Secretary Elaine Duke Friday over the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“The United States and the university have benefitted enormously from the presence of the Dreamers, accomplished young men and women who are our students, and colleagues and neighbors,” the lawsuit reads. “They are Americans, a fact the defendants’ precipitous decision cannot change.”
The lawsuit was filed by the Regents of the University of California and UC President Janet Napolitano, with pro bono support of Covington & Burling, LLP.
Napolitano served as secretary of DHS in 2012 and headed the creation of the DACA program under former President Barack Obama.
“It is imperative … that we stand up for these vital members of the UC community. They represent the best of who we are — hard-working, resilient and motivated high achievers,” Napolitano said in a press release.
According to the lawsuit, the UC system has about 4,000 undocumented students, many of whom benefit from DACA, as well as staff members who have been aided by the program. The plaintiffs decided to file the lawsuit because the administration failed to “articulate a satisfactory explanation” for eliminating DACA, which has received heavy investment and benefits by the system’s “intellectual capital and productivity.”
The lawsuit also claims that the repeal is based on an incorrect legal premise by relying on the purported illegality of the DACA program, despite the fact that “no court has upheld DACA as unlawful.”
“(The) defendants’ capricious rescission of the DACA program violates both the procedural and substantive requirements of the APA, as well as the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit says the rescission violates Administrative Procedures Act (APA) guidelines by preventing DHS from granting advance parole or renewing DACA status after Oct. 5 and violates the Due Process Clause by failing to provide any process to the UC system or DACA recipients before removing whatever value the program offers.
The lawsuit calls on the defendants to set aside any unconstitutional, unjust or unlawful actions.
“Defendants did not analyze the actual costs and benefits of allowing DACA recipients to live and work in this country, nor did they acknowledge the manifold benefits that have resulted from the program or the harm that institutions like the university – as well as its students – would suffer as a result of the Rescission,” the lawsuit reads.
In an interview with the Daily Titan Wednesday, CSUF President Mildred García said the primary focus of the university in responding to the removal of DACA is working with members of Congress and CSU lobbyists in Washington on new legislation.
“I always say we are the model comprehensive university of the nation, and it’s showing to the rest of the world that the demographics are changing. The United States is changing, and we’re demonstrating to the world how you do that,” García said.
CSUF Chief Communications Officer Jeffrey Cook said that any action similar to the UC lawsuit by the CSU system would be handled at a systemwide level by the office of Chancellor Timothy P. White.
“My understanding is that there has been no decision to take legal action at this time, but the CSU is evaluating and considering all options to support DACA students and employees,” Cook said in an email. “CSU leaders will be discussing this issue with legislators next week in Washington.”
CSU Office of the Chancellor Public Affairs Manager Elizabeth Chapin echoed Cook’s statement that there has been “no decision to take legal action” at this point, but that the CSU is evaluating all options and talking with federal legislative leaders.
“We especially want to make sure that our students are feeling safe and supported so they can continue to pursue their education,” Chapin said in an email. “We will continue to vigorously advocate on their behalf.”