Berkeley Law dean Erwin Chemerinsky serves as counsel in lawsuit against Trump administration for DACA repeal

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UC Berkeley School of Law dean Erwin Chemerinsky will serve as counsel in a lawsuit against President Donald Trump for his repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

Ten lawyers will present the case Tuesday morning in San Francisco at the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The lawsuit also listed the Department of Homeland Security and the acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke as defendants. The six plaintiffs are all DACA recipients,  three of which are UC students and alumni.

Luis Cortes Romero, an attorney for the case, noted that this particular case is the first in which “DACA recipients are suing on behalf of themselves.” He added that though he is not a plaintiff, he is a DACA recipient himself.

The Trump administration rescinded DACA on Sept. 5. The program allows young, undocumented individuals to receive services and certifications, such as work permits, health care and driver’s licenses.

“I think what the Trump administration is doing is unconstitutional,” Chemerinsky said. “The repeal of DACA did not follow proper procedure. The beneficiaries of DACA have a right to due process”

The legal reasoning behind the case rests in part on due process rights outlined in the constitution. The complaint states that DACA recipients have “constitutionally protected liberty and property interests … including their ability to renew their DACA status.”

“If you are going to make a material change in that policy, you cannot just wave a wand and it’s gone,” attorney Mark Rosenbaum said.  “There are particular procedures.”

The plaintiffs also contend that Trump’s repeal was motivated by “discriminatory intent and animus” specifically against Mexican nationals, individuals of Mexican heritage and Latinos.  The complaint cites that 93 percent of DACA applications are Latino or of Mexican heritage and a series of Trump’s tweets as evidence of “bias” against this population.

The university also sued Trump on Sept. 8, challenging the constitutionality of repealing Obama’s 2012 executive order. About 400 students at UC Berkeley are in the DACA program. DACA allows them to receive in-state tuition in California and apply for financial aid.

In a statement released by the White House on Sept. 5, the Trump administration stated that the creation of DACA directly “incentivized further illegal immigration” by minors and “(restored) the law.”

The repeal of the act will prevent the plaintiffs from pursuing their studies and careers, according to Cortes Romero. He and Rosenbaum heavily stress the current and future contribution the plaintiffs can offer to their communities.

“If the program is rescinded, the loss is not just in terms of what happens to these individuals’ lives, but to the hundreds of thousands of lives that these people affect,” Rosenbaum said. “We all have a stake in this.”

Contact Sophia Brown-Heidenreich at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sophiabrownh.