TRENTON – Acting to protect tens of thousands of New Jersey Dreamers from possible deportation, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today filed an amicus brief in federal court that challenges the Trump Administration’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“DACA grantees are part of the fabric of our state. They are wage earners and taxpayers. They have careers, own homes and cars, and have U.S. citizen children, siblings and spouses,” said Attorney General Grewal. “While New Jersey and other states can point to a multitude of ways in which removing DACA grantees will cause significant harm, the federal government has yet to cite one valid rationale for doing so. That’s because there isn’t one. We owe it to ourselves to fight this unjust and unnecessary action, and as the State’s Attorney General I’m glad to do so.”
Describing the DACA program as “life changing” for many New Jersey immigrants, the amicus brief notes that DACA grantees are “full members of the New Jersey community – our neighbors and friends, teachers and students, brothers, sisters and colleagues.” DACA has enabled all of these people “to step out of the shadows and to live as full and productive members of society.”
The amicus brief argues that rescinding DACA would permanently and irreparably harm the State of New Jersey. It would deprive the state’s public colleges and universities of the incredible diversity DACA students bring to their campuses, of hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost tuition revenue, and of many valuable employees who the schools have spent money recruiting, training and retaining.
Rescinding DACA would also seriously harm New Jersey’s treasury, as DACA-eligible residents earned an estimated $811.9 million in New Jersey in 2015, and paid an estimated $66 million in state and local taxes in 2016. An estimated 53,000 DACA eligible individuals live in New Jersey.
In addition, removing all DACA workers from the state’s economy would cost New Jersey an estimated $1.587 billion in annual GDP losses.
Rescinding DACA would also endanger public health and harm the State’s ability to enforce its criminal laws against those who prey on immigrants. Forty-eight percent of DACA recipients surveyed reported that, even if injured, they would be less likely to seek treatment at a hospital if DACA were rescinded. And 53 percent of DACA grantees reported that they would be less likely to report a crime they witnessed to police if DACA were terminated.
The amicus brief filed by Attorney General Grewal supports a multi-state legal challenge to the elimination of DACA led by New York and including 15 other states, as well as the District of Columbia.
In February, the multi-state group obtained a preliminary injunction blocking the rescission of DACA, which the federal government is now appealing. The appeal will be argued before the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, where New Jersey’s amicus brief was filed today.
According to the brief, a survey of more than 3,000 DACA grantees across the nation found that the average Dreamer was brought to the U.S. at age 6, has lived in this country for nearly 19 years, and is presently 25 years old. Seventy three percent of DACA recipients live with an American citizen spouse, child or sibling, and 91 percent are presently employed.
The amicus brief was drafted by Assistant Attorney General Rachel Wainer Apter, who serves as Counsel to the Attorney General.
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