U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrest an immigrant. Courtesy Department of Homeland Security

Nearly 2 million undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children face a new challenge to their status after Texas and nine other states asked the government to end the program that allows them to live and work legally.

In a letter Thursday to U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, the states asked the Trump administration to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program begun in 2012.

“We respectfully request that the Secretary of Homeland Security phase out the DACA program,” wrote Texas Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton for his state and Arkansas, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Though the states threatened to sue to end the program, the letter said the request to end DACA “does not require the federal government to remove any alien.”

Some 1.7 million people who came to the United States before their 16th birthday can avoid deportation under the program by registering with the Department of Homeland Security. Many of the so-called “Dreamers” speak only English and have never been to their country of origin.

The American Civil Liberties Union called Paxton’s action “vindictive” and a “new low.”

“These 10 attorney generals and one governor, led by notorious, anti-immigrant propagandist Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton, are bringing the fight to a new low,” said Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaigns. “They are aligning themselves with the most extreme and vindictive public officials in the country by demanding that young people surrender their ability to live without fear, work legally, and contribute to the country they call home.”

President Trump has said those in the DACA program should “rest easy” and not fear deportation, but immigration hardliners in his base have called for ending the program.

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