March 5, 2018

(Los Angeles, CA) - Six months ago, the Trump Administration announced that today would be the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. Court orders have extended the initiative.

Please attribute the following statement on the urgent need to find a legislative solution to the economic and moral crisis created by the Trump administration’s cruel and capricious decision to end DACA to Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund):

“As a legal organization, MALDEF notes that today’s deadline for the end of the DACA initiative, which is now deferred by court action, is entirely the result of the legal incompetence of certain state and federal government officials, together with Donald Trump’s inability to obtain or adhere to superior, alternative legal advice from any source.

It began with a threat from Texas state Attorney General Ken Paxton, who asserted that he would amend a case challenging the separate Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) initiative to challenge DACA. First, Paxton knew or should have known that his chance of converting that pre-existing DAPA case into a challenge to DACA was very unlikely given the change in substance of the lawsuit and the significant change in plaintiffs – his threat was joined by a fraction of the states that had joined the DAPA suit. Second, Paxton knew or should have known that his state and the others had very little chance of establishing standing – an absolute constitutional prerequisite to a federal-court lawsuit – to challenge the DACA initiative, which had been in effect for over five years. Paxton knew that a central element of Texas’ asserted standing in the DAPA suit related to the increased expenditures that might be triggered by implementation of a new DAPA initiative. This asserted standing would plainly not apply to DACA, which had already been in place for five years with thousands of recipients in Texas.

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions compounded Paxton’s incompetent threat by apparently advising Donald Trump that the legal risk was real and substantial. A competent attorney general would have known that the threat was extremely weak, based on the facts explained above. It seems clear that Sessions tainted his legal advice with his own nativist policy predilections.

Donald Trump, despite his ongoing dissatisfaction with Sessions, including early and recent tweets openly questioning his competence, accepted Sessions’ advice, without apparently seeking other advice. Trump is of course a sophisticated legal consumer, having been sued innumerable times in his corporate career, yet he acquiesced for unexplained reasons in highly questionable advice apparently provide by Sessions.

Every person in the United States should be concerned about the Paxton-Sessions-Trump triumvirate of legal incompetence that brought us to today.

In the face of such abject incompetence, we must continue to call upon other leaders, including those in congressional leadership, to act in a more responsible way by addressing the screaming national need to retain DACA workers in our current full-employment economy.”

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund