UCLA campus
UCLA. Photo by John Schreiber.

The University of California Friday filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration for allegedly violating the constitutional rights of the college system and its students, including those at its Los Angeles and Irvine campuses, by rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on “nothing more than unreasoned executive whim.”

The lawsuit filed in San Francisco against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its acting secretary, Elaine Duke, is the first to be filed by a university seeking to stop the Trump administration’s recently announced decision to end the DACA program, which has allowed nearly 800,000 undocumented young people to legally live, work and study in the United States.

“As a result of the defendants’ actions, the Dreamers face expulsion from the only country that they call home, based on nothing more than unreasoned executive whim,” the complaint reads.

UC President Janet Napolitano, who was secretary of DHS from 2009 to 2013, spearheaded the Obama administration’s creation of the DACA program in 2012, setting in place a rigorous application and security review process, according to the lawsuit.

Applicants for DACA were only approved if they were in or had graduated from high school or college, or were in the military, or an honorably discharged veteran They cannot have been convicted of a felony or major misdemeanor or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

“Neither I, nor the University of California, take the step of suing the federal government lightly, especially not the very agency that I led,” Napolitano said in a statement released by the UC. “It is imperative, however, that we stand up for these vital members of the UC community. They represent the best of who we are — hard working, resilient and motivated high achievers. To arbitrarily and capriciously end the DACA program, which benefits our country as a whole, is not only unlawful, it is contrary to our national values and bad policy.”

The lawsuit asks the court to set aside the Trump administration’s rescission of DACA because it is “unconstitutional, unjust, and unlawful.”

The UC system, including UCLA and UC Irvine, has roughly 4,000 undocumented students, a substantial number of whom are part of DACA, as well as teachers, researchers and health care providers who are DACA recipients, according to UC.

Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, said he was “grateful that the UC is taking aggressive steps to defend the DACA students and staff members who now find themselves on uncertain terrain.”

“The University of California is the greatest research university in the world, and leads the nation in policies that protect its student body,” he said. “The hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients who call California home are our future and they — along with their parents — are critical to California’s ongoing economic prosperity.”

–City News Service

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