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Arizona attorney general joins multistate effort to support 'Dreamers' and push back on Texas suit

Arizona’s Democratic attorney general says she opposes Texas’ efforts to end the "Dreamers" program. 

Kris Mayes joined 23 other attorneys general in filing a brief in federal court urging the reversal of a district court ruling against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, better known as DACA. 

The case brought by Texas and eight other states, now before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, argues DACA is unauthorized by law, and aims to end the program completely. 

Texas District Court Judge Andrew Hanen deemed DACA illegal in 2021, but that ruling was appealed. The process worked its way back to Hanen’s court where he reiterated his previous ruling in September 2023.

In their brief, Mayes and the other attorneys general argue that DACA recipients play a vital role in the country and deserve to live free from the fear of being forcibly separated from their families and communities.

They also argued ending the program would take a financial toll. 

“DACA recipients not only strengthen our communities, but also bolster our economies. Recipients and their households pay an estimated $6.2 billion in federal taxes and $3.3 billion in state and local taxes annually, including over $2.1 billion in state and local tax revenue to amici States,” they wrote.

There is currently no path to citizenship for DACA recipients like Phoenix resident Reyna Montoya.

"There’s been ongoing litigation on the DACA program since 2017, 2018, and it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions," she said.

Montoya says she welcomes the AG's support, but permanent, lasting solutions must happen in Congress. Montoya is the founder and CEO of a group called Aliento, which advocates for DACA recipients, Dreamers and undocumented families in Arizona. She says many young people don’t even qualify for the program today.

"I mean at this point, when you see the average age of a DACA recipient in the state of Arizona, it’s 29. So the majority of the students we’re working with in high school and college are undocumented," she said.

That’s either because they’re too young, or because their DACA applications are stuck in the process. A sweeping border and immigration bill released by U.S. senators Sunday offers no protection for DACA recipients.

More stories from KJZZ

Camryn Sanchez is a field correspondent at KJZZ covering everything to do with state politics.