Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, on President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program, which has provided nearly 800,000 young immigrants a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the United States. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Sessions announces end of DACA program (full)
10:04 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

"Dreamers left everything behind," Vidal said

He filed a lawsuit hours after the Trump administration announced DACA's termination

Washington CNN  — 

An undocumented immigrant from New York rushed to federal court Tuesday to challenge the termination of DACA – a program protecting young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation – hours after the Trump administration announced its termination.

Martin Batalla Vidal, a current participant in the Obama-era programmed called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, said that “everything has stopped” after the Trump administration’s action. He lamented the fact that a program that “changed his life” is now being wiped from the books.

“Dreamers left everything behind, and DACA allowed me to work. Now that’s being taken away,” he said in a conference call.

He is looking to amend a case was originally filed last year concerning an expansion of DACA that had been struck down. Lawyers say President Donald Trump’s actions violate federal law and the equal protection guarantee of the Constitution.

In a letter to US Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the US Court for the Eastern District of New York, lawyers for the National Immigration Law Center argue that the termination violated federal law that forbids “arbitrary and capricious” agency action.

“In today’s abrupt policy shift, the government has failed to provide a reasoned explanation for disregarding the findings and conclusions that underlay” the 2012 DACA policy,” the lawyers write.

They also argued that under the equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, the withdrawal of the original 2012 memo “constitutes impermissible discrimination based on race.”

“The termination of DACA violates equal protection because it was substantially motivated by the animus of the President and administration toward Latinos and Mexicans, the two groups who will overwhelmingly bear the brunt of President Trump’s decision to re-impose the threat of deportation on hundreds of thousands of young people who present no threat to national security or public policy,” they wrote.

Other lawsuits are expected from immigrant rights groups, and several state attorneys general have threatened to sue.

New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman addressed a crowd of DACA supporters Tuesday evening in New York City’s Foley Square. He said New Yorkers here on DACA status are “not your enemy,” and that they represent “the best of America.”

“And to President Trump, let me say something I have repeatedly said – I will see you in court,” Schniederman said, met by cheers from the crowd of hundreds.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a Tuesday statement that the decision does not mean that DACA recipients “are bad people or that our nation disrespects them or demeans them in any way.” Instead, he stressed that he felt that he could no longer defend the prior administration’s policy because President Barack Obama had exceeded his authority under the law.

“As the attorney general, it is my duty to ensure that the laws of the United States are enforced and the constitutional order is upheld,” Sessions said.

He also stressed that it was an issue for Congress to “carefully and thoughtfully review.”

Legal experts say that opponents to the decision might have difficulty bringing challenges to the termination in part because the decisions to initiate removal proceedings are generally not reviewable.

“Because President Obama created the DACA program unilaterally through an executive action, a court might rule that President Trump had a legal basis to terminate the program unilaterally,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr of Cornell Law School.

“Moreover, courts are often more deferential to immigration executive actions than in other areas because immigration touches on sovereignty and national security,” he said.

CNN’s Lawrence Crook III and Kwegyirba Croffie contributed to this report.