Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Otter, Wasden join call to end DACA program for ‘Dreamers’

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter is the only governor who’s joined 10 state attorneys general – including Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden – in signing a letter urging the Trump Administration to phase out the DACA program, which has provided deportation relief and access to work permits to nearly 788,000 “Dreamers,” or undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as young children. In the letter, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Otter and the attorneys general threaten to sue if the program isn’t cut off. You can read my full story here at

DACA stands for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” It was started by former President Barack Obama. The attorneys general and Otter commend the Trump Administration for rescinding orders to expand the program, which they successfully opposed in court, arguing that the executive branch doesn’t have the power to change people’s legal immigration status.

But the letter notes that the original 2012 policy remains in effect, as do some permits under the expanded program. “We respectfully request that the Secretary of Homeland Security phase out the DACA program,” the letter says. “Specifically, we request that the Secretary of Homeland Security rescind the June 15, 2012 DACA memorandum and order that the Executive Branch will not renew or issue any new DACA or Expanded DACA permits in the future.”

The attorneys general and Otter give the Trump Administration a Sept. 5 deadline to act, saying they’ll voluntarily dismiss their earlier pending lawsuit in Texas if the deadline is met. “Otherwise, the complaint in that case will be amended to challenge both the DACA program and the remaining Expanded DACA permits,” they write.

The ACLU of Idaho blasted Otter and Wasden for signing the letter, calling it “a clear attack against the immigrant community and our shared Idaho values of hard work, family and opportunity.” Leo Morales, Idaho ACLU executive director, said, “The DACA program has allowed many young people to pursue an education, work, and contribute to our communities across Idaho. Hundreds of thousands of people from across the country were given an opportunity to come out of the shadows with confidence to pursue their lives in a state they call home. The Idahoans in the DACA program are our neighbors, friends and colleagues; they are a part of our Idaho communities.”

Asked why Otter signed on to the letter and what his position is on the DACA program, Otter's communications director, Mark Warbis, said in an emailed statement:

"Idaho joined the Texas-led litigation challenging the 2014 DACA expansion ordered by President Obama. A federal appellate court issued a preliminary injunction blocking the expansion and the U.S. Supreme Court left that injunction in place. The recent letter was aimed at informing the Trump administration that leaving the DACA program itself in place also would be unacceptable to the states involved in the expansion lawsuit. Idaho signing onto the letter was consistent with the goal of the original lawsuit – opposing a program that is inconsistent with federal immigration law and the interests of national security. If our national policy is to defer deportation of childhood arrivals, then Congress should change the law to reflect that. It should not be done through an administrative memorandum.  

"As to why Governor Otter was the only governor among the ten states involved in the case to sign the letter, the better question might be why the governors of the other states did not."

Wasden issued this statement:

“This is part of my office’s ongoing efforts to encourage the federal government to respect the separation of powers. These directives were the equivalent of legislating by executive order. My signature on this letter is not about targeting immigrant families. Rather, it is consistent with my objection to legislative executive orders as well as encouragement to Congress to fulfill its constitutional responsibility and address these pressing issues.”

You can read the attorneys generals’ full letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions online here; and the ACLU of Idaho’s full statement here.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

Follow Betsy online: