Arizona became the latest state to join 10 other attorneys general opposing DACA in Texas v. United States, a case slated to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court next month.
Depending on how the court rules, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich says it could force Congress to finally address immigration reform.
The lawsuit, brought by 10 states led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, argues the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) is illegal. Former President Barack Obama created the program by executive order to protect children under age 16 brought into the U.S. illegally before 2007 from deportation under certain conditions.
President Donald Trump issued an executive order in 2017 to phase out the program, which was blocked by lower courts after lawsuits were filed by attorneys general in California and New York. State and nationwide injunctions to the order reinstated DACA and required federal officials to resume processing renewal applications until a final ruling by the court.
The injunctions have shielded an estimated 700,000 DACA recipients from deportation.
The Trump administration urged the Supreme Court to overturn the injunctions, arguing DACA "sanctions the ongoing violation of federal law by more than half a million people" and is not authorized by immigration statutes. The U.S. Department of Justice asked the justices late last year to consider the lower court cases on a fast track, which they declined, allowing the program to continue.
Attorneys General from Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Idaho, and West Virginia, and the governor of Idaho, sued, arguing DACA is illegal.
Twenty state attorneys general then filed an Amicus Brief last year with the Supreme Court in support of DACA.
Brnovich told Capitol Media Services that DACA was always considered as a temporary solution to a problem that needed to be addressed by Congress.
DACA has taken “the pressure off Congress to do something,” he said. “DACA recipients are being used as political footballs by both parties. There’s no incentive for politicians in Washington, D.C., to solve this problem because they’d rather have it around as a political issue.”
Brnovich argued before the U.S. Supreme Court last year defending Arizona’s practice of denying driver’s licenses to DACA recipients. The court rejected his arguments without comment and Arizona was forced to issues licenses to DACA recipients.
In late 2014, Texas led a 26 multi-state lawsuit against the Obama administration, which put another Obama-era program, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), on hold. The program gave deferred action status to certain illegal immigrants who had lived in the U.S. since 2010 and had children who were either citizens or lawful permanent residents.
The coalition first won in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, and later in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, and finally in the U.S. Supreme Court last year.
The Supreme Court is not expected to announce its ruling on Texas v. United States until 2020.