Tuesday, 16 July 2024 21:43

17 states file suit challenging Obama’s immigration plan

Thursday, 04 December 2014

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas and 16 other states, including Wisconsin, filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday challenging President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration, arguing that he had violated his constitutional duty to enforce the laws and illegally placed new burdens on state budgets.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Brownsville, Texas, was the first major legal challenge to initiatives Obama announced Nov. 20 that will provide protection from deportation and work permits to up to 5 million immigrants here illegally.

Attorney General Greg Abbott of Texas, which led the coalition bringing the challenge, said Obama was "abdicating his responsibility to faithfully enforce the laws that were duly enacted by Congress and attempting to rewrite immigration laws, which he has no authority to do."

The suit added to the broadside by angry Republicans against Obama's unilateral actions. In Washington, Republicans in the House of Representatives moved toward holding a largely symbolic vote Thursday on a bill to dismantle the president's programs, with a plan to vote next week on a spending bill that could fund the Department of Homeland Security, the agency administering the new programs, for only a few months.

But in a defiant challenge to GOP leaders, immigration hardliners in Congress announced Wednesday that they will oppose that legislation to keep the government open. They demanded specific provisions to stop Obama's executive actions on immigration.

"We aren't with our vote going to give him one dime to execute his illegal action, and we believe the American people are going to stand with us," said Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., at a news conference outside the Capitol where she was joined by other House conservatives and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

Cruz warned against "having a meaningless show vote" and said: "We should announce we mean what we say, we will use our constitutional authorities to force this president to faithfully execute the laws."

The states' lawsuit argued that the Obama administration had failed to comply with requirements the federal government must follow in issuing new rules, and warned that Obama's measures would encourage a new wave of illegal crossings at the southwest border, forcing Texas and other states to spend additional funds on law enforcement, health care and education.

Obama and other senior officials have said they have full legal authority for the new measures, which they said are authorized by existing statutes. Obama granted deferred deportations, at the discretion of prosecutors, to unauthorized immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

"The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that federal officials can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws, and we are confident that the president's executive actions are well within his legal authorities," Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the White House, said Wednesday after the lawsuit was filed.

In presenting the lawsuit at a news conference, Abbott said Texas was "uniquely qualified to challenge the president's executive order," because the state had suffered the brunt of illegal immigration and drug related cross-border crime. Abbott said the president's responsibility to enforce the laws was a "fundamental promise to the American people," and he said any changes to immigration laws should be made by Congress, not by "presidential fiat."

Abbott, a Republican, will replace Rick Perry as Texas governor after winning in a landslide in November. Perry, who will leave office in January, joined a one-two punch against Obama on Wednesday from a pair of conservative Texas Republicans who have repeatedly attacked the administration on immigration and other issues.

At a separate news conference here, Perry described heavy spending by Texas on state operations to reinforce border security, and he accused the Obama administration of ignoring the border "in favor of political posturing on immigration."

Other states joining the lawsuit were Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Mississippi and Maine.

The New York Times

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