Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois is accusing Jeff Sessions of doing some collusion—with the state of Texas.
More specifically, Durbin alleged that Sessions is completely throwing the federal government’s DACA case because he wants reactionary state governments suing the federal government to end the program—namely Texas and its attorney general, Ken Paxton, who filed another lawsuit yesterday to force the federal government to stop issuing permits—to win. Duh.
In a letter to Sessions dated today, Durbin wrote:
“Yesterday, the State of Texas and six other states filed suit against the Trump Administration challenging the legality of DACA and seeking an injunction to “phase out” the program. This lawsuit again raises serious unanswered questions about whether the Trump Administration is conspiring with Texas and other states to undermine DACA.”
In fact, you have publicly supported the states’ threat to challenge DACA. For example, in a June 30 interview, you said, ‘I’ve got to tell you, I like it that our states and localities are holding the federal government to account, expecting us to do what is our responsibility to the state and locals, and that’s to enforce the law.’ I cannot recall the Attorney General of the United States ever welcoming a threat to sue the President.
Durbin also cites an exchange he had with Sessions last October:
On October 18, 2017, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, I asked you, “Did you have any communication with the Attorney Generals threatening to bring lawsuits to DACA before the decision was made?” You replied, “That kind of legal discussion I believe would be part of the work product of the attorney general office and I should not reveal it.” I then asked you, “You are saying …that communication is privileged? That you had a communication with the Texas Attorney General about the threatened lawsuit against DACA before the Administration’s announcement?” You responded, “…That is correct. I will review it. If I feel it’s appropriate for me to reveal to you, I will do so.”
That was more than six months ago, and I have not received any follow-up communications from the Justice Department. As you know, there is no recognized legal privilege between adversaries in potential litigation. And [Texas] Attorney General [Ken] Paxton has acknowledged that his office did communicate with the Trump Administration about the threatened litigation, saying “we had some back and forth conversations” before sending the June 2017 letter.
Sessions has never kept his opposition to DACA a secret. “This unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of minors at the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences and it denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs,” Sessions said at the September 5, 2017 press conference where he announced that DACA would end. “The compassionate thing is to do is end the lawlessness...We cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. It’s just that simple.”
Furthermore, the DOJ also asked the Supreme Court to intervene in January after the first of three district court judges ruled that the administration had to keep the program going.
Durbin’s letter doesn’t make it clear whether or not he can actually force Sessions to hand over the communications he’s asking for. Regardless, the Trump administration has a more immediate problem regarding DACA right now: last week, a D.C. district court judge who was appointed by George W. Bush demanded that the administration produce a better rationale for ending the program within 90 days or else he’d restore the program in full.