Federal Court Grants New Jersey's Request to Defend DACA in Texas Lawsuit After DOJ Refuses to Protect Dreamers – Brief Filed with Federal Court Cites Potential Harms to NJ if DACA is Ended

TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced today that a federal court in Brownsville, Texas has granted New Jersey’s motion to intervene in a Texas-led lawsuit aimed at ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The court’s decision, dated June 25, 2018, allows New Jersey to defend DACA after the U.S. Department of Justice indicated in court papers that it “agrees with the State of Texas and other Plaintiffs that the policy known as [DACA] is unlawful.”

“We are pleased with the court’s decision,” said Attorney General Grewal. “If the Department of Justice won’t defend DACA, then we will. We will do everything we can to protect the more than 17,000 Dreamers who have made New Jersey their home.”
The Trump Administration announced its intention to end DACA in 2017, but has been enjoined by several courts from doing so. Recently, Texas and six other states filed a lawsuit in federal court in the Southern District of Texas arguing that DACA is illegal, because it was created without Congressional action. The suit seeks an injunction barring Defendants from issuing or renewing DACA permits in the future.

On May 21, 2018, New Jersey moved to intervene in the lawsuit, arguing that the federal government, which was named as a defendant in the suit, was unable to adequately defend the interests of those who would be harmed if DACA were terminated.

In yesterday’s court order granting New Jersey’s motion to intervene as a defendant, Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas wrote that New Jersey had demonstrated that “its interests are inadequately represented by the existing parties,” which includes the federal government and a group of individual DACA grantees represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

New Jersey is home to an estimated 53,000 DACA-eligible residents and a total of 17,400 current, active DACA grantees.

Approximately 15,900 DACA grantees in New Jersey are currently employed, more than 900 own their own businesses, 7,800 are in school, 5,600 are pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s or professional degree, and 12,650 have an American citizen sibling, spouse or child.

According to the State’s brief in its motion to intervene, one recent study placed the spending power of DACA-eligible individuals in New Jersey at an estimated $679.7 million. If DACA were terminated, the brief contends, New Jersey would lose an estimated $19 million per year in tax revenues.

The case is being led by Assistant Attorney General Rachel Wainer Apter, who serves as Counsel to the Attorney General.

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