June 9 (UPI) -- The Justice Department said the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is "unlawful" in a court filing responding to a federal lawsuit filed last month in Texas.
The department said in a filing late Friday that DACA was unlawful and "an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws," CNN reported. The filing was in response to a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on behalf of seven states to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
DACA, which began in 2012 under then-President Barack Obama, protects nearly 2 million undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children from deportation and grants them work permits, but the states in the suit argue its unlawful and unconstitutional.
The states challenging the law are Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia.
The Justice Department also argued that if an injunction is issued, it should be delayed since it would create "inconsistent obligations," with DACA-related injunctions issued in California and New York, the New York Times reported.
The lawsuit filed last month argues that the court has the authority "to immediately rescind and cancel all DACA permits currently in existence because they are unlawful."
President Donald Trump decided to end new and renewal applications for DACA in September and let the program expire on March 5, but since then, federal judges in the District of Columbia, New York and California have blocked efforts to rescind the program. The federal judges said the administration has not offered adequate legal reason for winding down the program.
"It's no surprise that DOJ tells the court it thinks DACA is unlawful," said Director of Legal Strategy for the National Immigration Law Center on Twitter. "Reminder: this is the same administration that ended DACA without a coherent legal basis and without care for #DACA recipients."