Dreamers Karen Caudillo, 21, of Florida is comforted by Jairo Reyes, 25, of Rogers, Arkansas as Senator Kamala Harris, D-California, accompanied by members of the House and Senate Democrats, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Picture: Jose Luis Magana/AP
Dreamers Karen Caudillo, 21, of Florida is comforted by Jairo Reyes, 25, of Rogers, Arkansas as Senator Kamala Harris, D-California, accompanied by members of the House and Senate Democrats, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Picture: Jose Luis Magana/AP
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California accompanied by members of the House and Senate Democrats, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Picture: Jose Luis Magana/AP
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California accompanied by members of the House and Senate Democrats, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Picture: Jose Luis Magana/AP

New York — Fifteen states and the District of Columbia sued on 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 programme, 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 US illegally as children or came with families who overstayed visas.

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 October 5. But the program isn't accepting new applications.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California accompanied by members of the House and Senate Democrats, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Picture: Jose Luis Magana/AP

Opponents of the programme said they are pleased with the Trump administration's decision. They called DACA an unconstitutional abuse of executive power but proponents of the programme 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 Governor 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.

AP