New York Attorney General Letitia James said Wednesday that she is “ready to take legal action” to try to stop President Trump’s new immigration pause, saying he was usurping Congress’ power to write immigration policy.
Top Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee also weighed in with their opinion that Mr. Trump’s proclamation suspending issuance of new green cards to most prospective migrants tramples on their powers as lawmakers.
“Under our Constitution, Congress writes the laws, and the president must enforce them as written. This executive order turns that bedrock principle of separation of powers on its head,” said Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Zoe Lofgren.
Ms. James didn’t say when she might follow through on her legal threat, but if she does it will be the latest in a series of court battles between her and the Trump administration — many of them already about other immigration policies.
In this case, her target is Mr. Trump’s proclamation to suspend entry of green cards signifying permanent new residents. It’s the key intermediate step on the pathway to citizenship.
The president says the suspension is needed to keep new immigrants from competing with Americans for jobs amid a coronavirus-constrained economy.
Those on both sides of the immigration divide said Mr. Trump is wrong on the economics.
Activists who want to see stricter immigration limits — usually backers of Mr. Trump — say he should have targeted temporary foreign guest workers, who are the chief competition for jobs. Immigration rights advocates, meanwhile, say Mr. Trump should leave migrants alone altogether, saying they boost the economy, not detract from it.
Mr. Trump, in issuing his proclamation, cited Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which gives a president broad powers to suspend entry “of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants.”
He also cited Section 215(a), which past presidents have also used to block entry of some classes of migrants.
The Supreme Court, in ruling on Mr. Trump’s travel ban on a number of majority-Muslim countries, upheld Mr. Trump’s powers under the law to control immigration for broad classes of people, which could severely constrain Ms. James’ legal options as she ponders a lawsuit.