Gov. Bruce Rauner and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sharply disagreed Wednesday on whether the state of Illinois should fight President Donald Trump’s plan to end a program protecting young immigrants from deportation.
Madigan joined 14 other states and the District of Columbia in filing suit to block Trump’s decision. The North Side Democrat called Trump’s move “fundamentally unfair” and illegal.
But the Republican governor responded to the suit by issuing a statement, saying “comprehensive immigration reform should be addressed through Congress, and not on a state-by-state basis.”
The lawsuit Madigan joined was filed in the Eastern District of New York. Besides Illinois, the plaintiffs were New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
Washington state’s attorney general called Trump’s decision “a dark time for our country.”
In a news release, Madigan said the decision to end the program “is fundamentally unfair, hurts our state economy and violates the law. … These are Americans in every way but their birthright. For centuries, our country has benefitted from immigrants who came here and worked hard for a better life. Rescinding DACA is contrary to what makes our country prosper.”
Earlier Wednesday, Rauner voiced objection to entering the fray when he sidestepped a challenge from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to take state action to protect those immigrants.
Emanuel had urged him to establish an Illinois Bill of Rights for undocumented immigrants, but Rauner said: “I do not believe this challenge for these children can be addressed on a state-by-state basis. … I think that would not be correct, not be the right solution. We need comprehensive immigration reform, it should be done at the federal level for the entire nation and it should be done by Congress.”
Emanuel said he totally disagreed with Rauner.
“Our job is not to hide here behind legal principle when it comes to the value of who and what we are. You are the governor [where] 42,000 young men and women call your state their home. Will you use the power and tools as the governor to protect them from a careless act by the president of the United States to threaten the very things they know and have only known their whole lives?”
On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said a program, known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, will end in six months to give Congress time to find a legislative solution for the immigrants.
The participants were brought to the U.S. illegally as children or came with families who overstayed visas.
Those already enrolled in DACA remain covered until their permits expire. If their permits expire before March, 5, 2018, they are eligible to renew them for another two years as long as they apply by Oct. 5. But the program isn’t accepting new applications.
Opponents of the program said they are pleased with the Trump administration’s decision. They called DACA an unconstitutional abuse of executive power but proponents of the program said the move by Trump was cruel.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the action violates the due process rights of the immigrants. He said he fears the information the immigrants provided the government to participate in DACA could be used against them.
“It’s outrageous, it’s not right,” an emotional Ferguson said at a news conference in Seattle. “As attorney general for the state of Washington, I have a hammer, it’s the law.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee joined Ferguson at the news conference and said “this is one more of a long train of abuses that this president has attempted to foist on this great nation.”
Earlier this year, Ferguson sued Trump over the initial travel ban, which resulted in a federal judge blocking nationwide enforcement.
Contributing: The Associated Press and Sun-Times reporters Fran Spielman and Mitch Dudek