Louisiana joined 16 other states Wednesday in filing a constitutional challenge over President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
Texas is leading the coalition that filed a lawsuit in federal court in the Southern U.S. District of Texas. The coalition largely includes states that are headed by Republican governors.
Obama’s order would protect from deportation nearly 5 million people living illegally in the U.S. It has prompted threats from U.S. House Republican leadership to take action to undo Obama’s November immigration policy edict.
As he issued the immigration order, Obama said he still wants passage of a bipartisan law but he is tired of waiting on the House, which has refused to participate.
The states’ action pushed the debate into the legal arena for resolution.
According to the lawsuit, Obama’s unilateral action violates the “Take Care Clause” of the U.S. Constitution that limits the scope of presidential power. The lawsuit also alleges that federal rule-making procedures were violated and that the order will “exacerbate the humanitarian crisis along the southern border,” requiring increased spending on law enforcement, health care and education.
“We joined the lawsuit because what the president is doing is wrong. We have separation of powers for a reason,” Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a statement issued by his press office. “If he thinks this is a good idea, then he should get the House and Senate to pass it the way our Constitution intended.
“The bottom line is that the president knows good and well that the American people do not support what he is considering doing — it’s unpopular, which is why he waited until after the midterms,” referring to November congressional elections in which Democrats lost a battle to stay in power in the Senate.
Jindal, an outspoken critic of Obama on many issues, including the border crisis, said the new Congress should work together “and stop at nothing to secure the border.”
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell called Obama’s action a “blatant violation of our Constitution.”
“The Take Care Clause mandates that the president take care that the laws be faithfully executed — not rewrite them or ignore them under the guise of some type of executive discretion,” Caldwell said in a statement.
Other states joining in the lawsuit include Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Obama argues that he has the legal authority as president, noting that both Democrat and Republican presidents before him have issued immigration orders.
“I worked with Congress on a comprehensive fix, and last year, 68 Democrats, Republicans and Independents came together to pass a common-sense, compromise bill in the Senate. That bill would have secured our border while giving undocumented immigrants who already live here a pathway to citizenship if they paid a fine, started paying their taxes and went to the back of the line. Independent experts said it would grow our economy and shrink our deficits,” Obama said.
“Had the House of Representatives allowed a yes-or-no vote on that kind of bill, it would have passed with support from both parties. Today, it would be the law. But for a year and a half, Republican leaders in the House have refused to allow that simple vote,” he continued.
Until a bipartisan bill is passed, Obama said: “There are actions I have the legal authority to take … that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just.”