Updated at 5:50 p.m., September 7, 2017
Fifteen states and the District of Columbia sued Wednesday to block President Donald Trump's plan to end a program protecting young immigrants from deportation — an act Washington state's attorney general called "a dark time for our country."
The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of New York. The plaintiffs were New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said a program, known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, will end in six months to give Congress time to find a legislative solution for the immigrants.
The participants were brought to the U.S. illegally as children or came with families who overstayed visas.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said it's cruel for the Trump administration to rescind the program known as DACA. Stein said the Justice Department should not take away protections for the estimated 27,000 beneficiaries of the program living in North Carolina.
"My objective is to do everything in my power to ensure that the 27,000 DACA recipients aren't thrown out of this country because this is, for all intents and purposes, their country," Stein said.
Those already enrolled in DACA remain covered until their permits expire. If their permits expire before March, 5, 2018, they are eligible to renew them for another two years as long as they apply by Oct. 5. But the program isn't accepting new applications.
Stein said recipients should not lose protections for coming to the United States through no fault of their own.
"They are either in school, they are working or they own a business," Stein said. "Some of them are in the U.S. Army. They are part and parcel of the economy and the stability of our state and our nation."
Opponents of the program said they are pleased with the Trump administration's decision. They called DACA an unconstitutional abuse of executive power but proponents of the program said the move by Trump was cruel.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the action violates the due process rights of the immigrants. He said he fears the information the immigrants provided the government to participate in DACA could be used against them.
"It's outrageous, it's not right," an emotional Ferguson said at a news conference in Seattle. "As attorney general for the state of Washington, I have a hammer, it's the law."
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee joined Ferguson at the news conference and said "this is one more of a long train of abuses that this president has attempted to foist on this great nation."
Earlier this year, Ferguson sued Trump over his travel ban, which resulted in a federal judge blocking nationwide enforcement.