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States Sue Trump Administration Over Failure To End DACA


The fight over DACA continues. Last week, seven attorneys general filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for its failure to end the program that protects hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants, known as DREAMers, from deportation. The lawsuit comes after a D.C. federal judge ruled the program can continue and accept new applications. Attorney General of Louisiana Jeff Landry is one of the attorneys general from the seven states filing the lawsuit, and he joins me now on the line. Good morning.

JEFF LANDRY: Good morning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What are you asking for in this lawsuit, exactly?

LANDRY: Well, again, what we're looking for is a ruling that the policy is unconstitutional. You know, the problem that we continuously face in this country is Congress's inability to act. I think both sides of the aisle recognize that immigration policies in this country are broken. But there is a vehicle and a mechanism and an institution that is designed to remedy that. And that is Congress. This is a policy that was put in place under the Obama administration. And its counterpart, DAPA, was ruled to be held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in June of 2016.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Deferred Action for Parents as opposed to the children - DAPA. I'd like to ask you this - in January 2017, you said you were ready to help President Trump enforce his travel ban. This past week, you criticized DACA by saying it is simply bad policy to allow the executive branch to disregard the process in which laws are created. President Trump's travel ban is the executive branch enforcing immigration policy. So what is different about these two things that makes you want to legally challenge DACA?

LANDRY: I think the key word is he is enforcing current immigration policy in his ability as the chief executive of the country that's tasked with keeping the public safe. So I don't think that those - it's like comparing apples to oranges.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: They're both, though, targeting immigration policies. And they're both executive orders. I mean, President Trump has signed over 60 executive orders.

LANDRY: Right. Right. But not all executive orders, again, are unconstitutional. Nowhere in the current position that the attorney generals in this suit have taken goes to define that executive order as a global, or an unconstitutional mechanism or an instrument used by the executive. Again...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, there are legal challenges to the travel ban. And there is a discussion about whether or not it is indeed constitutional.

LANDRY: There is. But let's stay concentrated on the current executive order that was put in place under the Obama administration. The fact of the matter is that the Supreme Court, back in June, ruled that DAPA, which is a companion of DACA, was unconstitutional. And yet Congress and Democrats in the Senate, playing obstructionists that they are, have refused to act.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: There are about 2,000 DREAMers in Louisiana. What kind of policy do you think should be put in place for these young people? Do you support any protections for them?

LANDRY: Look. I believe - I support the rule of law. The fact of the matter is that we've got a broken immigration system under which we are allowing people to just come through our country unfettered. We don't know who they are. They go into the shadows. We can't find them.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But this isn't the case with those...

LANDRY: That's a bad policy.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But this isn't the case with those DREAMers. These are obviously people who have been vetted. These are people who have come out of the shadows. These are people who are offered protections by the United States government so that they could get work permits because they were brought here as children. Isn't that conflating two different issues?

LANDRY: Well, I think that's a question you should ask members of Congress in the Senate. Again, the Senate and the House of Representatives have the ability to fix this policy.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Some critics are concerned this lawsuit will force a showdown in the Supreme Court, which has remained out of this fight for the most part. Do you foresee that happening?

LANDRY: You know, again, our objective is to get Congress to act.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Jeff Landry is the attorney general of Louisiana. Thank you so much.

LANDRY: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.