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Dreamer María Perales, along with Princeton University and Microsoft, filed a lawsuit Friday against President Donald Trump for ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
The complaint, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., alleges that DACA’s termination violates both the United States Constitution and federal law.
Plaintiffs argue that the federal government violated the Fifth Amendment by not guaranteeing equal protection under the law for the young beneficiaries of the program and that its end severely damages the lives of the 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were protected from deportation. It also argues that the end of DACA "affects the employers and educational institutions that rely on and benefit from their contributions."
"Princeton and Microsoft have benefited from—and relied upon—DACA," it reads. The university has "admitted and enrolled at least 21 Dreamers who have relied on the government’s promises regarding DACA, and 15 DACA beneficiaries are currently enrolled as undergraduate students at the University."
Microsoft, together with its subsidiary LinkedIn Corporation, employs at least 45 DACA recipients.
Fifteen states and Washington, D.C., sued President Trump for the elimination of the program in September.
Until now, the legal debate around DACA has not focused on the constitutionality of its cancelation, but on the fact that DACA was an executive action. It was unknown whether the courts would challenge the extent of exective power— the president, as head of the executive branch, has the power to make executive orders, as former president Barack Obama did with DACA, and as President Trump did by undoing the program.
DACA was created to protect Dreamers from deportation and allow them to work legally in the United States, in spite of the fact that they were brought into the country without legal papers.
In late August, before the administration announced DACA would be canceled, Princeton president Christopher Eisgruber sent a letter to Trump.
“Repealing DACA would be a tragic mistake,” Eisgruber wrote. “DACA is a wise and humane policy that benefits this country in multiple ways. It has allowed talented and motivated students, who came here as a result of decisions by their parents, to pursue educations and contribute positively to our communities and our country.”
Perales is the first in her family to go to a four-year university. Her mother studied until the third year of primary school in Mexico. When Perales was in ninth grade, she died of cancer.
Perales dreamed of studying at Princeton since she was 7. She now studies civil engineering there. “One thing I learned throughout the process was definitely to not give up on the first try," she wrote in a 2015 Univision column.
“I am participating in this legal challenge because I believe strongly in the resilience and courage that the migrant community and youth have brought to this nation," she said Friday in a statement. "While not a perfect solution, DACA provided many of my peers and me with an avenue to have control over our paths and lives, free from the constant fear of deportation."