At least 17 states are suing the Obama administration over President Barack Obama’s executive action that paves the path for the legalization of 4 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Texas Attorney General and Gov.-elect Greg Abbott is leading the effort.
Abbott said Wednesday that Obama violated his constitutional duty to uphold the laws enacted by Congress and failed to comply with federal regulations that require the Department of Homeland Security give notice and take comments prior to providing benefits to undocumented migrants. He also said the order will “exacerbate the humanitarian crisis along the border,” costing states millions in law enforcement, health and education efforts, according to a release posted to the attorney general’s website explaining the challenge.
Abbott, a Republican, called the executive action “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.”
Obama issued the executive order in mid-November, shortly after Republicans captured the Senate and kept control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections. The order opens a path to lawful residency for undocumented migrants who have been in the country for more than five years, who pay taxes and pass a background check. It also allocates resources to strengthen the border and deport people who have recently entered the country. Obama said an executive action was necessary because of Congress' inaction.
Washington Republicans had warned the president that he would “poison the well,” or sour relations with them, if he went ahead with the executive order. Obama said Congress could wipe away his order if they came to an agreeable immigration reform bill in the next two years.
“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.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas. Texas is joined by Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin in the suit. Of those states, only Montana and West Virginia have Democratic governors.
Abbott is leaving office in January to become governor, and the case will presumably be carried on by his successor, Republican Ken Paxton.