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Adam Laxalt in 2015 sued to stop the Obama administration’s plan to expand a program that prevents the deportation of immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children.
That lawsuit didn’t seek to revoke protections for people already in the program, but to restrict how many more people could benefit from it.
Laxalt did not join a 2018 lawsuit from other states to end the original program; he said it was because people were already enrolled.
In Nevada’s Senate race, Democratic incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and her Republican opponent Adam Laxalt have attacked each other’s records on crime and the opioid crisis. Both served as the state’s attorney general.
Cortez Masto is also spotlighting Laxalt’s stance on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, an Obama-era program that prevents the deportation of immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children.
"I have an opponent right now who isn't just anti-DACA. He actually fought against the protections for DACA recipients when he was attorney general," Cortez Masto tweeted Oct. 13. "He used his power to attack people who were brought to this country as children."
But I have an opponent right now who isn't just anti-DACA. He actually fought against the protections for DACA recipients when he was attorney general.— Catherine Cortez Masto (@CortezMasto) October 13, 2022
He used his power to attack people who were brought to this country as children.https://t.co/StSSP2v5aa
The tweet links to an Axios article that said Laxalt spent $13,000 in radio ads "touting his opposition to protections for immigrants who were brought to the country as children."
As he sought the Republican nomination, Laxalt ran TV and radio ads promoting his success in a lawsuit against the Obama administration. He argued DACA amounted to granting "amnesty for illegal immigrants." He joined a lawsuit against an expansion of DACA, but did not join a lawsuit against the program’s original version because it already had beneficiaries.
The Department of Homeland Security secretary created DACA via a 2012 memorandum. DACA does not grant legal immigration status to its beneficiaries, but it protects them from deportation and allows them to apply for work permits and a Social Security number. These protections and benefits are provided in two-year renewable intervals.
To qualify for DACA, people must meet specific requirements related to their age and the time frame in which they arrived in the United States. They are ineligible if they have been convicted of a felony, certain misdemeanors, or if they pose a threat to national security or public safety.
In November 2014, DHS issued a memo expanding DACA eligibility (regarding age and arrival date). It also created a similar program to benefit parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.
As Nevada’s attorney general in January 2015, Laxalt joined 24 other states in a lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s implementation of the expanded version of DACA, introduced in 2014, and the new program for parents. The lawsuit argued that the 2014 memo violated the Administrative Procedure Act — a law that describes how federal agencies can make and enforce regulations.
"Our immigration system is broken and clearly needs to be fixed. But just as clearly, the solution is not for the president to act unilaterally disregarding the U.S. Constitution and laws," Laxalt said in a 2015 statement.
Cortez Masto’s team pointed PolitiFact to Laxalt’s decision to join the lawsuit as evidence for her claim that he fought against protections for DACA recipients.
The attorneys general’s case rose to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016, which left in place a lower court’s decision blocking DACA’s expansion and the new program for parents of U.S. citizens and green card holders.
In 2017, when the Trump administration tried to rescind the original version of DACA, 15 attorneys general sued the government aiming to keep DACA protections in place. Laxalt did not join that lawsuit.
The Supreme Court ruled against the Trump administration in a 5-4 decision.
In 2018, nine states sued the Trump administration, claiming the original DACA program was created illegally.
Laxalt did not join this lawsuit. He drew a distinction between suing to end a program that already has enrollees (original DACA) and suing to end an expansion of that program and a program that had no beneficiaries.
This year, a federal appeals court ruled DACA illegal. However, it remains in place for active beneficiaries while a lower court analyzes the Biden administration’s changes to the program. These included making the application for DACA and the work permit two separate processes, and implementing a public comment period to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act.
Cortez Masto tweeted that Adam Laxalt is "anti-DACA" and "fought against the protections for DACA recipients when he was attorney general."
Laxalt and 24 other attorneys general sued to stop the Obama administration from expanding DACA and creating a new program that would benefit parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.
That lawsuit didn’t seek to revoke protections for people already in the program, but aimed to restrict the number of additional people who could benefit from it.
It’s worth noting that Laxalt did not join another lawsuit to end the original version of DACA; he said it was because people were already enrolled in the program.
The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context. We rate the claim Half True.
Catherine Cortez Masto, tweet, Oct. 13, 2022
Catherine Cortez Masto, tweet, Oct. 12, 2022
Axios, GOP candidates double down on anti-immigrant rhetoric, April 12, 2022
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Texas v. United States, Oct. 5, 2022
PolitiFact, Courts are still debating the legality of DACA, June 29, 2022
Department of Homeland Security, Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children, June 15, 2012
PolitiFact, What have courts said about the constitutionality of DACA?, Sept. 11, 2017
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Frequently Asked Questions, accessed Oct. 25, 2022
PolitiFact, Donald Trump says some DACA recipients are ‘very tough, hardened criminals.’ That’s False, Nov. 14, 2019
Department of Homeland Security, Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children and with Respect to Certain Individuals Who Are the Parents of U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents, Nov. 20, 2014
Nevada Attorney General, Nevada Joins a Majority of the States in Challenging President Obama’s Unconstitutional Executive Order on Immigration, Jan. 26, 2015
Casetext, Texas v. United States, accessed Oct. 24, 2022
Britannica, Administrative Procedure Act, accessed Oct. 24, 2022
The Washington Post, Attorneys general from 15 states, D.C. sue to save DACA, Sept. 6, 2017
The Nevada Independent, On the trail, governor candidate Adam Laxalt sells himself as bulwark against Democratic tide, June 3, 2018
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