When President Barack Obama took executive action to grant amnesty to millions of immigrants, the state of Texas was the first to challenge him by filing a lawsuit. Then more states joined the suit, claiming the president overstepped his authority. Now members of Congress are also stepping into the fight by joining an amicus brief filed by a legal group.
Texas Attorney General and governor-elect Greg Abbott filed a lawsuit on behalf of 17 states Dec. 3 in the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Texas-Brownsville Division.
The suit was filed in reaction to the president’s Nov. 20 directive to the Department of Homeland Security to unilaterally suspend the immigration laws for 4 million of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Led by Texas, a total of 24 states have entered the suit as plaintiffs, and today U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R) and Ted Cruz (R) of Texas, the American Center for Law and Justice and others submitted an amicus curiae, or friend of the court, brief.
And although the president is not named directly as a defendant, the suit is filed against members of the president’s cabinet: 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.
As it says in the first line of the brief’s summary of argument, the friends argue the “[D]efendants’ directive (“DHS directive”) violates the Constitution and Congress’s intent.”
The directive changes the law and exceeds the executive branch’s constitutional authority and disrupts the “delicate balance of powers.”
“President Obama is not only blatantly defying the Constitution by refusing to faithfully execute our nation’s immigration laws; his amnesty policy is harming millions of Texans and Americans,” Sen. Cruz said in a statement. “By unilaterally granting amnesty to nearly five million people, the President is inviting even more illegal immigration, which hurts working men and women who have entered the country legally and further strains state governments.”
Obama has no authority to ignore the law, Cruz said, and by doing so he violates the presidential oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.
In the prepared statement, he called the president’s action a “power grab.”
The states submitting the suit on Dec. 3 as plaintiffs are 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 complaint.
In addition to the senators from Texas, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., also joined the amicus brief, as did Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., Diane Black, R-Tenn., Dave Brat, R-Va., Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., John Fleming, R-La., Randy Forbes, R-Va., Virginia Foxx, R-NC, Trent Franks, R-Ariz., Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., H. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., Mike Kelly, R-Penn., David McKinley, R-W.Va., Jeff Miller, R-Fla., Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., Pete Olson, R-Texas, Ted Poe, R-Texas, Bill Posey, R-Fla., Tom Price, R-Ga., Phil Roe, R-Tenn., Adrian Smith, R-Neb., Lamar Smith, R-Texas and Rob Wittman, R-Va.
The Brownsville District, where the lawsuit was filed, is in south Texas along the border with Mexico, and area that became the center of immigration crisis when thousands of children – without an adult or documentation – flooded across the U.S. border.
Case No. 1:14-cv-254,
U.S. Court for the Southern District of Texas-Brownsville Division