Tennessee Attorney General Backs Out Of DACA Lawsuit Threat

Erik Schelzig/AP

Tennessee’s attorney general sent a remarkable letter Friday, withdrawing his threat to sue the government if President Donald Trump did not rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) by Sept. 5.

Until Friday afternoon, Herbert Slatery III was one of 10 Republican attorneys general, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who threatened to include DACA in a larger lawsuit in order to phase out the program, if Trump didn’t do so himself.

On Friday, Slatery wrote in a letter to Tennessee’s two senators that “[t]here is a human element to this, however, that is not lost on me and should not be ignored.”

“Many of the DACA recipients, some of whose records I reviewed, have outstanding accomplishments and laudable ambitions, which if achieved, will be of great benefit and service to our country,” he continued. “They have an appreciation for the opportunities afforded to them by our country.”

“At this time, our Office has decided not to challenge DACA in the litigation, because we believe there is a better approach that we outline below,” he wrote.

Later in the letter, Slatery specifically named the 2017 version of the so-called “Dream Act,” introduced this year by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) to establish a path to citizenship for undocumented young people who meet certain criteria.

The Washington Post reported in July that the bill would grant permanent legal status to “more than 1 million young people who arrived in the United States before they turned 18, passed security checks and met other criteria, including enrolling in college, joining the military or finding jobs.”

“Whether this particular legislation is a viable solution is a matter for congressional debate,” Slatery wrote. “It is not a comprehensive answer to our immigration policy challenges, but it would be a very good start.”

The Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) celebrated the announcement:

Read Slatery’s letter below via TIRRC:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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