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L.A. County to Support Litigation Efforts to Protect DACA Dreamers

Protesters hold various signs and banners at a DACA rally in San Francisco. – Courtesy photo / Pax Ahimsa Gethen (CC BY-SA 4.0)

In response to the Department of Homeland Security’s recently released memorandum announcing that initial requests for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) will be rejected, the Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved a motion authored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to join in litigation, or to file an amicus brief supporting California’s lawsuit, challenging the federal government’s actions to rescind DACA. Attorney General Xavier Becerra seeks to urge other attorney generals to send letters encouraging the president to maintain the DACA initiative. This motion will direct L.A. County to support these efforts.

“Now, more than ever, we must be resolved to keep fighting on behalf of our immigrant communities, especially in the face of an administration that has continually attacked a community that is so vital to every facet of our country,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “Those who have relied on DACA for their livelihood and peace of mind need our help. The contributions DACA recipients are making to our nation and county are immeasurable. The economic and human stakes are too high — they deserve and will have our continued support.”

Established by President Obama in 2012, DACA allows more than 700,000 immigrants to live and work in the United States legally even if they are undocumented. The program enables non-U.S. citizens who came to the U.S. as children and who meet several key guidelines, to remain in the country for two years. Recipients of the program are eligible for work authorization and other benefits and are shielded from possible deportation. Youth impacted by DACA are often referred to as “Dreamers.”

“As our friends, colleagues, and members of our families, DREAMers play a defining role in the L.A. County’s rich civic, cultural, and economic life,” said L.A. County Office of Immigrant Affairs Executive Director Rigoberto Reyes. “Our Office exists to help them and their families get access to available wraparound county services so they can continue investing their talent and effort to making our L.A. County the great home it is for us all.”

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding DACA, the Trump Administration has indicated that it will once again attempt to revoke the initiative. In the memorandum issued on July 28, calls for a rejection of all initial requests for DACA program recipients and all pending and future applications for advance parole absent exceptional circumstances, and to shorten DACA program renewals to one-year periods. 

UCLA Labor Center Director Kent Wong had this to say about the motion. “I wholeheartedly support the proposal before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to file an amicus brief in support of the continuation of DACA. DACA has benefited 800,000 immigrant youth throughout the country, including tens of thousands of Los Angeles county residents. DACA recipients continue to contribute immensely to our society, to our economy, and many are on the frontlines of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Trump administration’s attack on DACA is immoral, unprincipled, and motivated by racial animus and political opportunism. Los Angeles celebrates the rich immigrant tradition that has made vast contributions to our communities over the generations, and we embrace the efforts to advance immigrant integration and to remove the structural barriers preventing immigrants from fully participating in our society.”

On June 15, 2012, the Obama Administration initiated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, providing temporary forbearance of removal and work authorization eligibility for undocumented immigrants who entered the United States (U.S.) as children. Since its inception, the DACA program has protected nearly 800,000 individuals, including tens of thousands of immigrants in Los Angeles County from deportation. The Trump administration first attempted to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in September 2017, a move that would have stripped its beneficiaries of work permits and subjected them to deportation. In a 5-4 vote this June, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that the Trump Administration’s attempted rescission of the DACA program was unlawful. However, the opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts was narrow in scope. “We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies,” he wrote. “The wisdom of those decisions is none of our concern. Here we address only whether the Administration complied with the procedural requirements in the law that insist on ‘a reasoned explanation for its action.'”

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