- The Washington Times - Monday, January 12, 2015

The District of Columbia, Maryland and 11 other states went to court Monday to defend President Obama’s new deportation amnesty, arguing that allowing illegal immigrants to work legally would actually help the states’ budgets.

Led by Washington state, they urged a federal judge to allow the amnesty to remain in place and to reject the challenge by Texas and two dozen other states who say they’ll face billions of dollars of costs in issuing driver’s licenses or gun permits, educating children and supplying health care to illegal immigrants if Mr. Obama’s policy takes effect.

The states defending the amnesty said they expect to see a surge of tax revenue once the illegal immigrants are allowed to legally compete for jobs, with Washington state expecting more than $10 million a year and California anticipating nearly $200 million a year.

“In reality, the evidence shows that Plaintiffs and other states will benefit — not suffer — from deferred immigration action,” the states said in their brief, filed in federal district court in Brownsville, Texas.

Judge Andrew Hanen has scheduled a hearing Thursday on Texas’s request that the Obama amnesty be halted.

But the new brief from Washington and fellow Democratic-led states on Monday turns the case into a state-versus-state battle, with the dividing lines generally drawn on political lines.

D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine said he joined the suit because he believes Mr. Obama’s amnesty will be good for the city.

“We are proud to support the president’s wise and lawful actions here to protect our immigrant families in the District and throughout the country,” he said in a statement.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said in his analysis of the situation that Mr. Obama is acting within his discretionary powers granted him by the law.

“I am convinced that the president’s action is well within the authority of the nation’s chief executive,” he said. “Far from harming Maryland, the federal government directives offer a sorely needed step forward on immigration that will benefit all Marylanders.”

Texas submitted briefs last week calculating that its taxpayers will pay more than $100 per license issued to illegal immigrants under the amnesty. Data from Indiana and Wisconsin also cited increased costs for licenses, permits and other social services.

The other states countered that when the immigrants are granted work permits and can compete legally for jobs, they will end up being a net positive, thanks to tax revenue.

The debate matters because Texas and the other states challenging Mr. Obama must prove they will suffer a harm in order to be able to sue. Otherwise, a judge will toss the case without deciding whether what Mr. Obama did violates the Constitution or federal law.

Washington state Attorney General Robert W. Ferguson denied he was motivated by politics in mounting his defense of Mr. Obama’s policies.

“It’s got absolutely nothing to do with politics — everything to do with upholding a perspective I think is important for the state of Washington,” he told reporters.

The other states that joined Washington, Maryland and the District of Columbia are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Vermont.

Andrea Noble contributed to this article.

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