Law scholars urge Trump to keep program for young immigrants

Immigration rights activists chant anti-Trump slogans as they urge Republican lawmakers in Florida to firmly oppose President Donald Trump's proposals to increase funding for immigration enforcement as deadlines for budget decisions near in Congress, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, in Doral, Fla. Dian Alarcon, second from right, said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart's office told a smaller group on Tuesday the border wall measure would likely not be approved in the Senate. Diaz-Balart's chief of staff Cesar Gonzalez told members of the media he would not comment. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A group of legal scholars is urging President Donald Trump to keep a program protecting hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation and is outlining a legal argument to maintain it.

Around 100 law professors and immigration attorneys are scheduled Monday to send Trump an open letter arguing the president has the legal authority to preserve the Obama administration program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

Michael Olivas, a law professor at the University of Houston Law Center and Santa Fe, New Mexico, resident, told The Associated Press the letter details why the program, which has helped around 750,000 immigrants, is legal.

"It's a very successful program, and we layout the legality," said Olivas, one of the authors of the letter. "It is not unconstitutional as some have suggested."

Federal courts have ruled the president can use "prosecutorial discretion" to give certain immigrants, like these young migrants, temporary protective status, the scholars said.

The Trump administration has said it still has not decided the program's fate.

A group of Republican attorneys general has called on the Trump administration to phase out the program. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and others have threated to amend a district court case to challenge the DACA program unless the Trump administration acts to phase it out.

Meanwhile, 20 Democratic attorneys general led by Xavier Becerra of California are asking Trump to keep the program.

Last month, then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told Hispanic lawmakers that the program is likely illegal, though he personally supports it.

The program gives work permits to young people brought to the U.S. as children.

Trump pledged as a candidate to immediately end the program. But as president, he has said those immigrants will not be targets for deportation.

He said his administration is more interested in deporting criminals.

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Russell Contreras is a member of The Associated Press' race and ethnicity team. Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras

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