Attorney General Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that Texas is leading a 17-state coalition that is suing the Obama administration over the president’s executive action on immigration.

Abbott said President Barack Obama violated the Constitution by taking executive action to keep millions of illegal immigrants from being deported.

“The President’s unilateral executive action tramples the U.S. Constitution’s Take Care Clause and federal law,” Abbott said in a statement. “The Constitution’s Take Care Clause limits the President’s power and ensures that he will faithfully execute Congress’s laws – not rewrite them under the guise of ‘prosecutorial discretion.’”

He said the Department of Homeland Security’s directive was issued without following the Administrative Procedure Act’s rulemaking guidelines and is “nothing but an unlawfully adopted legislative rule: an executive decree that requires federal agencies to award legal benefits to individuals whose conduct contradicts the priorities of Congress.”

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.

The Brownsville Division is located in south Texas along the border with Mexico. Abbott filed the suit as attorney general, although he is also governor-elect of the state of Texas.

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 suspended the immigration laws as applied to 4 million of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

“The President candidly admitted that, in doing so, he unilaterally rewrote the law …” the suit states.

At a press conference Wednesday, Abbott said “the ability of the president to dispense with laws was specifically considered and unanimously rejected at the Constitutional Convention.”

“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. 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.”

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