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NM attorney general to join in DACA lawsuit

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas

N.M. Attorney General Hector Balderas

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Attorney General Hector Balderas on Wednesday announced he is joining New Mexico to a lawsuit brought by 14 other states and Washington, D.C., attempting to defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program targeted by President Donald Trump this week.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, seeks to block Trump’s Tuesday order that would shut the program down in six months if Congress fails to authorize it.

The suit claims the order violates the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution because it unfairly targets Mexicans, who make up about 78 percent of DACA recipients, according to a report by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The suit also argues that the due process of DACA recipients is being violated as their application information could now be used to track them down for deportation though they were promised their information would not be used against them.

“I filed suit against President Trump and his administration to protect DACA because Dreamers are just as American as first lady Melania Trump,” Balderas said in a news release Wednesday. “President Trump cannot continue compromising the safety of our communities and our nation, or putting the security of thousands of New Mexicans who contribute to our classrooms, public safety and economy at risk.”

Balderas joins attorneys general from Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia, and Washington.

Each state in the suit lays out its own DACA-related facts, naming estimated numbers of recipients and their economic and social impact.

New Mexico’s portion reads that “of the 876,000 recipients of deferred action nationwide, 7,300 live in New Mexico” and estimates from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy “estimates that New Mexico could lose up to $7.5 million in state and local taxes if DACA were eliminated.”

“DACA-eligible residents are estimated to contribute more than $19 million in New Mexico’s state and local taxes, a figure of particular importance in a state often ranked as among the poorest in the country. DACA-eligible residents are part of the state’s near-majority Latino population, which wields some $24.9 billion in consumer purchasing power, and are also part of the increasing numbers of Asian families in the state,” according to the suit.

Also, the states argue that there are U.S.-born members in many DACA recipient families.

“Rescinding DACA will jeopardize the health, security and stability of New Mexico families by forcing separation and alienation,” the suit says.