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Trump tries to kill DACA, 15 states sue: Top takeaways from the Cyrus Mehta interview

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia sued Wednesday to bring to a screeching halt US President Donald Trump's plan to end a program protecting young immigrants who came in illegally but who have had temporary reprieve from deportation in the Obama years and until now. About 6,000 people from India and Pakistan are in the crosshairs of the legal limbo unleashed by Trump's latest blowout.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.

“This is a very interesting lawsuit. It says you can’t arbitrarily rescind, you’ll have to go through a far more complex process”, says top immigration attorney Cyrus Mehta who spoke to us on the India angle and next steps in this potboiler.

“What happens next? The courts will ask the Government to respond and then the plaintiffs are going to ask for a preliminary injunction. If the courts grant it, then DACA may be reinstated! There is a good chance that this lawsuit may not be dismissed as frivolous and we may see an interesting outcome”, says Mehta.

Mehta spoke to us even as news broke of the 15 states suing the Trump administration. Excerpts from the interview, lightly edited for brevity, highlighted for emphasis, are below.

Protests have spread across US cities as 800,000 people are plunged into an uncertain future/ AP

Protests have spread across US cities as 800,000 people are plunged into an uncertain future/ AP

Where do DACA recipeints stand as of today, subject to multiple ‘ifs’?

Cyrus Mehta: The DACA announcement has been met with complete shock. As of now there’s going to be a 6 month wind down period. It’s been rescinded but not completely. That’s important to know. Those who are authorised remain authorised. If permits expire before March, 5, 2018, they are eligible to renew them for another two years as long as they apply by Oct. 5 ( and applications are in by September 5, 2017). If permits expire beyond March 2018, you’re out of luck. They could be subject to deportation when their permits expire. Those who were never in the system are cut off. The October deadline is only applicable to those who have applied by September 5 and this is on a limited basis - for renewal.

What happens if DACA recipients overstay (now)?

Cyrus Mehta: If you’re a DACA recipient and you’re in the country unlawfully after your permit expires and you try to leave the country, you may trigger the 10 year bar. The only time you’re not triggering the 10 year bar is when you’re adjusting your status and you’ve been allowed (inspected) into the US.

What does Trump mean when he says he is waiting on Congress to act?

Cyrus Mehta: This (DACA) was an executive action taken by Obama. What Trump is trying to say is that Obama’s actions were unconstitutional and not ratified by the Immigration Act. People may disagree but that is Trump’s position. He’s saying that Congress needs to pass a new law that allows these people a path to legal citizenship. Theoretically, it is possible. If you try to pass a clean bill helping only DACA beneficiaries, I can imagine many other people trying to throw in what we call 'poison pills'. They may want to bring in the border wall, more enforcements and in the process the intial bill will fall apart. The Dream Bill has had a chequered past, it did not pass in the Obama years either. Now this President may not be willing to sign on a clean bill which does not have the border wall.

What does The White House mean when it says DACA was on shaky legal ground?

Cyrus Mehta: 12 state attorney generals had threatened to sue if Trump did not rescind DACA. If they had threatened during Obama’s time, his Justice Department would have said bring it on and we will fight you. But Jeff Sessions does not want to fight this thing. For all you know, in his heart, maybe he does not like DACA and agrees with the 12 states who threatened to sue. It is wrong to say that DACA is on shaky constitutional ground.

Updated Date: Sep 07, 2017 04:25 AM

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