Sept. 9 (UPI) -- With the backing of president Janet Napolitano, the University of California system has sued the Trump administration over its anticipated repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The university system and Napolitano, who helped create the program in 2012 while serving under President Barack Obama as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, filed a federal suit, claiming the current Department of Homeland Security and its acting secretary, Elaine Duke, unconstitutionally violated the rights of the University and its students by rescinding the program on "nothing more than unreasoned executive whim."
The program will be discontinued unless Congress establishes a legislative replacement in the next six months.
"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. "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 suit states that the Trump administration harmed thousands of undocumented students who were able to attend the universities in Napolitano's system due to the permits they receive through DACA.
"I'm really outraged on behalf of our students, who have done everything that has been asked of them," she told the New York Times. "Most of them know only the United States as home. To say that they have to be thinking about possible deportation is wrong on the law, inconsistent with our value and bad immigration policy."
Napolitano's suit also alleges the repeal violates rules under the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires the government publicly notify and receive comment from affected parties before revoking a significant policy.
"The government just can't turn 180 degrees on something like DACA without taking the proper steps," she said. "They didn't take the proper steps."
Attorneys general from 15 other states including New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia, along with the District of Columbia also filed a suit to block the termination of DACA on Wednesday.
The University of California said it plans to protect undocumented students by continuing to allow California residents who are receive benefits from the program to pay in-state tuition, offering legal services to undocumented students and more.