One of the most high-profile Republicans in the United States, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, this week took issue with the GOP attorney general of his own state’s effort to end protections for certain young undocumented immigrants.
Last week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed suit against the Trump administration in federal court in Brownsville, seeking an immediate end to the Obama-era executive order known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
DACA allows some young undocumented people to avoid deportation if they are, among other things, pursuing an education or are serving in the military and have committed no felony offenses. It does not include a path to citizenship and does not resolve their legal status in any way, which is why they're still in danger of deportation if the program ends.
Here’s the full list of requirements to even apply for DACA protection.
“It’s not a solution,” Sen. Cornyn of Paxton’s lawsuit. Speaking in Dallas, he said “I honestly don’t understand what the state is asking for.”
“Right now, the issue looks like it’s going all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. They’re gonna decide whether DACA can be ended,” Cornyn said, chalking it up to pure politics on Paxton’s part.
“There’s a saying in Washington, D.C., that some people want a solution while others want an issue they can use for the next election,” Cornyn said.
In filing the suit, Paxton acknowledged that he’s not focused on the “wisdom of any particular immigration policy.”
“The multi-state coalition lawsuit we filed today is about the rule of law, not the wisdom of any particular immigration policy,” Paxton explained during a news conference in Austin. “The Constitution guarantees the American people the right to set their own immigration policies through their representatives in Congress. The federal executive branch lacks the power to unilaterally grant unlawfully present aliens lawful presence and work authorization.”
When asked if his frustration is with President Donald Trump, whose administration he is suing, Paxton insisted that he is unhappy with "activist judges" who have so far blocked the president from ending the program.
Sen. Cornyn is unimpressed with all this. He argued for "compassion" and said the young undocumented immigrants often called “Dreamers” are outstanding individuals.
“In America, we don’t hold children responsible for the mistakes their parents made,” he said. “We need the talent…and this is a pool of very productive, good young people,” Cornyn said.
Jeff Moseley, the CEO of the Texas Association of Business, said the group’s view on the lawsuit is nuanced because anything that can be used as leverage to push congress toward a legislative solution could be a good thing.
“This is a workforce that has received, relative to the world, some of the best education known to mankind,” Moseley told the Star-Telegramin Fort Worth. “It makes no sense to us to take this highly trained group of individuals and turn them over to other countries to join their workforces,” Moseley said.
“We support the efforts of Congressman Will Hurd, Senator John Cornyn, and others seeking to forge a bipartisan, permanent solution to this issue,” the TAB says on the group’s website.
Texas is second only to California in its number of individuals registered with the DACA program, with about 234,000 DACA recipients currently in this state.
“These individuals are those we have invested in with our tax dollars (and theirs) to put through our public and higher education systems,” TAB said. “They are individuals who are working as employees in Fortune 500 companies and other businesses.
“They are contributing members of our society,” the group said.
The state’s group representing employers said their three main goals for immigration would be:
- Build an immigration system that allows enough legal immigration to meet employer needs.
- Create the ability for undocumented workers residing in the U.S. to obtain legal status.
- Create a reliable system for employers to quickly verify the legal status of job applicants without burdening employers with higher compliance costs or liability or shifting enforcement obligations from the government to employers.