Colorado Joins Multistate Lawsuit Over DACA Cancellation

Note: This post was updated at 4:14 p.m. with comments from Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announced today that the state will join a multistate lawsuit against the federal government for President Donald Trump’s plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program is outrageous and risks the futures of more than 17,000 Coloradans,” Hickenlooper said in a press release. “Colorado benefits when DREAMers have the opportunity to thrive in our communities and the only country they’ve ever known. These young people should not have to suffer because of our broken immigration system.

“While this lawsuit is no substitute for the sort of comprehensive immigration reform that can only come from Congress, it sends a necessary message that the rule of law and basic notions of fairness still matter in this country. We urge Congress to immediately pass the Dream Act, ensuring that these young people can plan for their future here in the United States. We also repeat our call for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

Law week, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said that she sees DACA as an issue for Congress to solve rather than one for the courts and said she did not plan to join the lawsuit filed by New York. Coffman responded by echoing her statement last week regarding Congress’ role in the situation:

“In Colorado, my office has the independent authority to take legal action on behalf of the state when I believe doing so is in the state’s best interest. In this case, I do not. Nor do I support the legal arguments in the Democrats’ lawsuit,” Coffman said in a press release.

“No court ruling will provide a lasting solution to the significant policy and people issues surrounding DACA,” she continued. “This debate belongs in Congress where the public can have input, and must result in a clear direction forward for this country and those who wish to call it home.”

Coffman declined to join the lawsuit and approved a special assistant attorney general designation for the Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel to handle the case on behalf of the state in her place.

The split between the governor and attorney general also echoes a divide that was ultimately resolved by the Colorado Supreme Court when Coffman joined a lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan while Hickenlooper challenger her authority to join the lawsuit without his agreement.

The DACA lawsuit is led by New York, Washington and Massachusetts and was filed Sept. 6. In addition to those lead states, 13 others states were listed on the lawsuit when it was filed as well: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and the District of Columbia.