Inslee vows to fight for Dreamers as Trump decision looms

Gov. Jay Inslee says Washington may try to defend DACA in court if the president doesn’t, but the state’s legal options depend on what Trump does next. Dreamers and their advocates are bracing themselves.

As a deadline looms for President Donald Trump to decide what he wants to do about young people illegally brought to this country as children, Gov. Jay Inslee said the state will not give up on the plight of Dreamers without a fight.

“This is a moral issue,” the governor said.

He was speaking on a conference call Wednesday with Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski, both signatories to a statement urging Trump to defend Dreamers against a court challenge threatened by 10 state attorneys general who want to end the program. More than 1,800 political, religious and law-enforcement leaders from around the country also signed the statement, including seven other governors and hundreds of mayors and legislators — most of them Democrats.

Yet while state leaders may have some legal options to defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program without Trump, they may be out of luck if the president decides to kill it himself. So Dreamers and their advocates are preparing for that possibility.

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Roughly 19,000 DACA recipients live in Washington, according to federal figures.

The group of attorneys general opposed to DACA has given Trump a Sept. 5 deadline to end the program, which gives renewable two-year work permits to qualifying undocumented immigrants. If the president does not do as they wish, the attorneys general have vowed to contest DACA’s validity in a Texas federal court.

The Trump administration has not yet said whether it would defend the program if that happens — DACA is still under review, said a White House spokeswoman in an email — and Wednesday’s statement from leaders around the country made an economic as well as moral argument. Removing some 800,000 Dreamers from the nation’s workforce would cost an estimated $460 billion in gross domestic product, the statement said.

Should Trump decide not to defend DACA in court, Inslee said he would urge state Attorney General Bob Ferguson to try to intervene. He said that he hadn’t talked to Ferguson yet, but that he imagined that some kind of “estoppel” legal argument would apply.

That argument is used to stop the government from taking action based on earlier…

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