Attorney General Kaul Takes Action to Protect Dreamers and DACA Program

Feb 6 2024

AG Kaul Joins Coalition of 23 Attorneys General to Urge Appeals Court to Reverse Decision Ending DACA Program 


MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul joined a multistate coalition of 23 attorneys general against Texas’ ongoing effort to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In the amicus brief filed before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the coalition urges the court to reverse the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas’ decision that the DACA program is unauthorized by law. The DACA program allows approximately 589,660 recipients–including nearly 6,000 Wisconsinites–to live, study and work across the United States free from the fear of being forcibly separated from their families and communities.

“DACA has been a resounding success," said Attorney General Kaul. "If that program isn’t upheld in its entirety—as it should be—any court-imposed changes must ensure that the impact on Dreamers and our communities generally is as limited as possible.”

Nationwide, since 2012, more than 825,000 young immigrants have been granted DACA protections after completing applications and passing a background check. DACA recipients, known as Dreamers, come from almost every country in the world, but many have never known any home other than the United States. The program has enabled hundreds of thousands of grantees to enroll in colleges and universities, start businesses that help improve our economy, serve in the military and give back to our communities as teachers, medical professionals, engineers and entrepreneurs. These contributions became even more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic as tens of thousands of DACA recipients continued to serve their communities as essential workers and frontline healthcare professionals.

DACA plays a vital role in supporting our economies at the national, state and local level. DACA recipients and their households are estimated to contribute approximately $9.5 billion in federal, state and local taxes each year. A full rollback of DACA is projected to result in a loss of an estimated $280 billion in national economic growth over the course of a decade. It would also lead to an estimated loss of $33.1 billion in Social Security contributions and $7.7 billion in Medicare contributions — funds that are critical to ensuring the financial health of these national programs upon which people across the country rely. In addition, the spending power of DACA recipients — estimated at $25.3 billion annually — contributes substantially to the overall economic health of the nation. DACA recipients own homes, make mortgage payments, own small businesses and help support the creation of new jobs.

The case before the Fifth Circuit is a result of a lawsuit brought by Texas and eight other states seeking to end the DACA program entirely. In October 2022, the Fifth Circuit upheld a decision from the district court finding that the 2012 executive memorandum creating the DACA program was unlawful but sent the case back to the lower court to consider the validity of a new regulation codifying the policy. In September 2023, the Southern District of Texas again declared the program unlawful.

Attorney General Kaul and the coalition of 23 attorneys general support the federal government’s argument that DACA is a lawful exercise of executive branch authority and does not violate the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The coalition also argues that the district court erred in deciding to vacate DACA in its entirety rather than severing any portions deemed unlawful. In addition, the amicus brief states that the district court’s decision failed to give DHS and Congress enough time to implement any remedial action necessary to address the court’s legal conclusions. Finally, the amicus brief notes the numerous ways in which state and local government benefit from and rely on the existence of the DACA program.

Joining Attorney General Kaul in filing today’s amicus brief are the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaiʻi, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.