- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Seventeen states and governors sued the Homeland Security Department on Wednesday in a bid to halt President Obama’s new deportation amnesty, saying he violated the Constitution and broke federal laws by granting tentative legal status to millions of illegal immigrants.

“This lawsuit is not about immigration. It is about the rule of law, presidential power and the structural limits of the U.S. Constitution,” the governors said in a 75-page complaint, filed in federal district court in Texas.

The governors said they have standing to sue because they and their state taxpayers will be left on the hook for expenses related to schooling, health care and police to handle the extra illegal immigrants who will now have federal permission to stay in the U.S., despite having no permanent lawful status.

And the plaintiffs carefully chose the court where they filed their challenge, selecting Brownsville, Texas, where a judge last year wrote a scathing rebuke of the Homeland Security Department for aiding human smugglers.

Mr. Obama’s unilateral immigration action, announced Nov. 20, would grant tentative status and work permits to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants, and would remove many others from any danger of deportation — though they would not have the same legal status as those officially granted the amnesty.

The policy has proved controversial, and Republicans in Congress are searching for ways to try to block Mr. Obama from following through on his plans.

GOP-led states, meanwhile, had vowed to go to the courts. Wednesday’s lawsuit was led by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

The lawsuit repeatedly uses Mr. Obama’s own words against him, pointing to the nearly two-dozen times he said he didn’t have the power to take the actions he took.

And in one critical attack, the lawsuit points to Mr. Obama’s own claim last week that he “took an action to change the law.”

“In this case, the president admitted that he ‘took an action to change the law.’ The defendants could hardly contend otherwise because a deferred action program with an acceptance rate that rounds to 100 percent is a de facto entitlement — one that even the president and OLC previously admitted would require a change to the law,” the challengers said in their complaint.

At the White House on Tuesday, press secretary Josh Earnest tried to walk back Mr. Obama’s law-changing comment, saying the president was trying to speak to the level of his audience in Chicago at the time.

“I think he was speaking colloquially,” Mr. Earnest said.

The spokesman went on to say that while the president didn’t change the law, his actions did change the way the law affects millions of people. “I think that’s what the president was alluding to,” Mr. Earnest said.

Legal analysts have heatedly debated whether Mr. Obama’s actions are legal, with the Justice Department saying while it’s the biggest claim of prosecutorial discretion in history, the same moves were done on a smaller scale by previous Republican presidents.

However it’s not even clear the courts will take the case. Judges have routinely rejected challenges to presidential actions by finding that plaintiffs can’t show a specific injury, and thus don’t have standing to sue.

To combat that, Texas took pains to describe the increased spending for health care, licensing, policing and education.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide