17 states sue to block Obama immigration order

POLITICO — Seventeen states filed a joint lawsuit in federal court Wednesday to try blocking President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican governor-elect, took the lead, filing the suit in the Southern District of Texas.

Other states joining are Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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“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 in a statement. “President Obama’s actions violate the Take Care Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act, which were intended to protect against this sort of executive disregard of the separation of powers.”

The White House responded to the suit by saying it is “confident that the President’s executive actions are well within his legal authorities.” Officials pointed to a memo from the Office of Legal Council justifying their move and a letter from 135 immigration law professors backing them up.

“The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that federal officials can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws,” said White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine.

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White House officials also pointed to the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in Arizona v. United States, which they say gave the federal government leeway in setting enforcement priorities, such as deciding that removing smugglers and criminals is more important than removing veterans or students.

The battle over Obama’s order is also playing out in Congress, where some conservatives are pushing, so far unsuccessfully, to defund part of the Department of Homeland Security. Separately, the House is likely to vote next week to condemn the move.

This new lawsuit also argues that the DHS directive required public notice and a comment period that didn’t occur.

“The executive action to dispense with federal immigration law will exacerbate the humanitarian crisis along the southern border, which will affect increased state investment in law enforcement, health care and education,” Abbott said in his announcement.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican who may run for president in 2016, announced that he directed his attorney general to join the suit.

“This lawsuit is not about immigration,” Pence said in a statement. “It is about denying states such as ours the opportunity to be represented in policy making through our elected members of Congress.”

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