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Demonstrators march in the Texas Capitol on Monday, May 29, 2017, protesting the state's newly passed anti-sanctuary cities bill in Austin, Texas. Opponents call Texas' anti-sanctuary cities law a "show your papers" law since it empowers police to inquire about peoples' immigration status during routine interactions such as traffic stops. (AP Photo/Meredith Hoffman)

Attorneys general press Trump to keep DACA immigrant program

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas on Friday joined 19 other Democratic attorneys general around the country urging President Donald Trump to keep a program that gives temporary resident status to young immigrants in the country illegally.

In a letter to the president, the attorneys general said the 800,000 immigrant students covered under the Obama-era Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrival Program, or DACA, have been a boon to universities and employers.

“They are our neighbors, co-workers, students and community and church leader,” the letter said.

“And they are boosting the economies and communities or our states every day.”

The effort is being led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

The letter came after 10 Republican attorneys general urged the president in their own letter to end the program.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and the others threatened to amend a district court case to challenge the program unless the Trump administration acts to phase it out.

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Earlier this month, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told Hispanic lawmakers that the program that protects young immigrants from deportation is likely illegal, though he personally supports it.

The program gives work permits to young people brought into 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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