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The University of California sued the Trump administration Friday for rescinding protections for immigrant students without legal status, saying it unconstitutionally violates their rights on “nothing more than unreasoned executive whim.”
The lawsuit filed in the northern district of California is the first legal effort by a university to block the Trump administration's decision to end protection from deportation of nearly 800,000 young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally before age 16, completed high school-level education and stayed out of trouble.
UC President Janet Napolitano, who was an architect of the program in 2012 as U.S. Homeland Security secretary, said the decision to sue the federal government was not taken lightly. The 10-campus system educates about 4,000 students — with teachers, researchers and healthcare providers — who are in the country illegally.
“It is imperative, however, that we stand up for these vital members of the UC community,” Napolitano said in statement. “They represent the best of who we are — hard working, resilient and motivated high achievers. To arbitrarily and capriciously end the DACA program, which benefits our country as a whole, is not only unlawful, it is contrary to our national values and bad policy.
“As a result of the defendants’ actions, the Dreamers face expulsion from the only country that they call home, based on nothing more than unreasoned executive whim,” the complaint reads.
“The University faces the loss of vital members of its community, students and employees. It is hard to imagine a decision less reasoned, more damaging, or undertaken with less care. ... Defendants’ capricious rescission of the DACA program violates both the procedural and substantive requirements of the APA (Administrative Procedure Act), as well as the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.”
The lawsuit was filed with the pro bono support of the law firm Covington & Burling LLP.
Napolitano has said UC campuses will continue to provide services for its immigrant students without legal status, also known as “Dreamers.” Those efforts include:
- Providing in-state tuition
- Maintaining the DREAM loan program for financial aid
- Free legal services
- Campus-based student-service centers
- Directions given to campus police not to contact, detain, question or arrest individuals based on their documentation status, or to enter agreements to undertake joint efforts to make arrests for federal immigration law violations.