Filed on DACA Renewal Deadline, Lawsuit Will Protect Wrongfully Targeted Young Immigrants
NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California filed a class action lawsuit today on behalf of young immigrants against the Trump administration for its unlawful revocations of their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.
These revocations have taken place without notice or an opportunity for the young immigrants to present their case, even though they followed all program rules and did not engage in any conduct to disqualify them from DACA. The lawsuit, IEIYC & Arreola v. Duke, challenges these revocation practices and was filed against officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The lawsuit says that these revocation practices violate the federal Administrative Procedures Act and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.
"President Trump has said that 'dreamers should rest easy,' yet his administration has placed these young immigrants directly at risk. Not only is he ending the protections the government pledged to these young immigrants who know no other home, but his administration is targeting them now while the DACA program is still in place," said ACLU attorney Michael Tan.
The lawsuit alleges that DHS has a practice of unlawfully and arbitrarily revoking DACA grants and work authorizations based on unproven allegations or low-level offenses, such as traffic violations that do not disqualify the individual from the program. DHS terminates DACA in these cases without any advance notice, any chance to fight the government’s actions, or an opportunity to reinstate DACA when an individual is cleared of any allegations.
Jesús Alonso Arreola Robles, one of the plaintiffs, is a 23-year old resident of the Los Angeles area. He has lived in the U.S. since he was one-year-old. DHS found him eligible for and granted him DACA in 2012, 2014, and again in 2016. At the time that DHS terminated his DACA, Arreola was working two jobs to help support his family — as a cook at the famed Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood and as a driver for Uber and Lyft. Through his earnings, Arreola helped support his parents, both of whom are lawful permanent residents, and his three U.S. citizen sisters — one of whom has significant disabilities.
Despite Arreola’s lack of any criminal history and his valid DACA grant, federal immigration authorities arrested him in February 2017 while he was driving a customer. Authorities falsely alleged that he was trying to help smuggle the customer’s relatives into the United States and placed him in deportation proceedings. Even though an immigration judge promptly rejected the smuggling allegation, and he was never charged with any crime, DHS revoked his DACA and, with it, his ability to work and support his family.
"My girlfriend and I are expecting our first child, a boy, on Christmas Day. I want to be here to raise him," said Arreola. "I grew up taking care of my sister Lupe. I want to keep holding her hand when she’s walking down the street. I know L.A. like the back of my hand — the lookout spot on Mulholland Drive, the beach in Malibu, the best Korean barbeque — and I want to continue the life I’ve lived here since I was a baby. I don’t want an unfounded accusation to take everything I love away from me."
Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaigns at the ACLU, said, "Today's class action on behalf of people like Jesus Arreola — who works two jobs to support his family and has done nothing wrong to lose his permission to live and work here — and the many DACA recipients that have been systematically targeted by the Trump administration because of the color of their skin, is a true testament of the urgency to enact the Dream Act. Only with the Dream Act in place will young immigrants be protected from deportation and have the opportunity to fully contribute to their communities and build a life of their own at the only home they’ve ever known."
Another one of the plaintiffs is the Inland Empire-Immigrant Youth Collective (IEIYC), a grassroots and advocacy organization based in Ontario, California, that serves the immigrant community in the region. The majority of IEIYC’s members and staff are DACA recipients. Because of the government’s arbitrary revocation practices, IEIYC members and staff fear that they could easily become targets and have their DACA grant terminated without notice, process, or the ability to regain it, especially because they live and work in a region with significant CBP presence.
The class action lawsuit, filed in federal court, would declare the government’s targeting and revocation practices unlawful and prohibit them going forward. It also asks the government to reinstate Arreola’s DACA status and employment authorization, as well as those of class members who have suffered unlawful revocations or, at a minimum, provide them an opportunity to challenge the termination of their DACA.
The lawsuit comes after almost a dozen of DACA recipients were detained last month at a checkpoint in Texas, under orders the federal government allegedly gave CBP agents to screen and question every DACA recipient they encounter.
If you or someone you know have had DACA unfairly revoked, please contact the ACLU at DACArevoked@aclu.org.
A video about Arreola’s story is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIT9yxQSkvo&feature=youtu.be
A blog post by Arreola is here: https://medium.com/aclu/i-lost-my-daca-status-because-i-was-arrested-though-never-charged-with-a-crime-45561fd4a7fb
A blog post about the lawsuit is online here: https://www.aclu.org/blog/were-suing-trump-administration-taking-daca-away-people-whove-followed-rules
More information about today’s lawsuit is online here: https://www.aclu.org/cases/inland-empire-immigrant-youth-collective-v-duke