Last week Texas led the way in filing a lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration. Now seven more states have followed the lead, bringing the total to 24 states claiming the president is violating the Constitution.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the president’s directive to keep millions of illegal immigrants from being deported suspends the nation’s immigration laws.
Abbott filed a lawsuit Dec. 3 in the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Texas-Brownsville Division on behalf of the states of Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. On Dec. 10, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio and Oklahoma joined the suit as plaintiffs.
“More than 20 states have joined our challenge against the president’s unilateral executive action to bypass Congress and rewrite immigration laws,” Abbott said in a statement. “The president’s proposed executive decree violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law, circumvents the will of the American people and is an affront to the families and individuals who follow our laws to legally immigrate to the United States.”
And although the president is not named directly as a defendant, the suit names Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security; Gil Kerlikowske, Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Ronald Vitiello, Deputy Chief of U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Thomas Winkowski, Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Leon Rodriguez, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The suit was filed in reaction to the president’s announcement on Nov. 20 that he issued a directive to the Department of Homeland Security to unilaterally suspend the immigration laws as applied to 4 million of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
“The President is abdicating his responsibility to faithfully enforce laws that were duly enacted by Congress and attempting to rewrite immigration laws, which he has no authority to do – something the President himself has previously admitted,” Abbott said at a press conference Dec. 3. “President Obama’s actions violate the Take Care Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act, which were intended to protect against this sort of executive disregard of the separation of powers.”
The states claim the DHS Directive fails to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act’s required notice and comment rulemaking process before providing that legal benefits like federal work permits, Medicare and Social Security be awarded to individuals who are openly violating immigration laws.
They also argue that the executive action to dispense with federal immigration law will “exacerbate the humanitarian crisis along the southern border, which will affect increased state investment in law enforcement, health care and education.”
U.S. Court for the Southern District of Texas-Brownsville Division, Case No. 1:14-cv-254