University of California sues Trump over 'unlawful' end to DACA
Alliance San Diego and other Pro-DACA supporters hold a protest rally, following U.S. President Donald Trump's DACA announcement, in front of San Diego County Administration Center in San Diego, California, U.S., September 5, 2017. Source: Reuters/John Gastaldo

The University of California (UC) 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 was filed in response to the US President’s move to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme that allowed undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to come out of the shadows and obtain valid driver’s licenses, enrol in college and legally secure jobs. They also pay income taxes.

According to a press release from UC, the move is the first legal effort by a university to block the decision that could upend the lives of almost 800,000 young people in the country.

UC President Janet Napolitano was key in the drafting and implementation of the DACA programme back in 2012 as US Homeland Security secretary under former president Barack Obama.

Napolitano claims the decision to sue the federal government was not an easy one. But considering UC educates about 4,000 students who are in the country illegally, and employs teachers, researchers and healthcare providers who fall under the DACA programme, the move was necessary to protect these vulnerable members of the UC community.

“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 – hardworking, resilient and motivated high achievers. To arbitrarily and capriciously end the DACA programme, which benefits our country as a whole, is not only unlawful, it is contrary to our national values and bad policy.”

The lawsuit asks the court to set aside the Trump administration’s rescission of DACA because it is “unconstitutional, unjust, and unlawful.”

“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 has vowed to protect undocumented students throughout the ten UC campuses – as well as any other students who need assistance – through the provision of legal services and maintenance of the financial aid programme for DACA recipients.

Attorney-General Jeff Sessions announced the decision to end the Obama-era programme on Sept 5, arguing the law was an “unlawful overreach”.

The Department of Homeland Security will immediately stop accepting DACA applications, but current recipients will not be affected until March 5 of next year, giving Congress six months to find a legislative solution to replace the programme.

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