A merits brief was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court today by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on behalf of a 26-state coalition providing arguments against President Obama’s immigration plan. A press release from Paxton’s office termed the White House scheme, an “unlawful immigration plan that would grant ‘lawfully present” status to 4 million people who came to the United States illegally.”
To date, Texas has led the coalition with repeated favorable court decisions, “successfully securing an injunction against implementation of the President’s program, known as DAPA.”
“The Obama Administration has consistently demonstrated disregard for the rule of law in asserting that it has the legal authority to unilaterally change the immigration policy of the United States,” Attorney General Paxton stated. “Rewriting national immigration law requires the full and careful consideration of Congress, not the political will and assertion of one person. As the president himself said numerous times, he alone does not have the authority to grant millions of unauthorized aliens a host of benefits, including work authorization.”
On Nov. 9, 2015, Texas secured a success ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit when Solicitor General Scott Keller delivered oral arguments in July. It was the third time a federal court ruled in favor of the Texas-led coalition. Oral arguments before the Supreme Court will be April 18.
Joining Texas in the lawsuit are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
“President Obama abdicated his responsibility to uphold the United States Constitution when he attempted to circumvent the laws passed by Congress via executive fiat, and Judge Hanen’s decision rightly stops the President’s overreach in its tracks,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said shortly after the original U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas victory.
Federal Judge Andrew Hanen, of the Southern District of Texas, decided against the White House in his decision on the lawsuit.
“We live in a nation governed by a system of checks and balances, and the President’s attempt to by-pass the will of the American people was successfully checked today,” said Gov. Abbott. “The District Court’s ruling is very clear — it prevents the President from implementing the policies in ‘any and all aspects.’”
After President Obama’s Nov. 20, 2014 announcement of his plan to take executive action and grant legal status to individuals illegally present in the U.S., then-Attorney General Abbott filed a lawsuit challenging the President’s action on Dec. 3, 2014. Texas was initially joined by 16 states in filing the lawsuit; that number grew to 26 states.
“This decision is a victory for the rule of law in America and a crucial first step in reining in President Obama’s lawlessness,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stated. “The President’s action, both unilateral and unconstitutional, was an affront to everyone pursuing a life of freedom and opportunity in America the right way.”
Paxton said the injunction “makes it clear that the President is not a law unto himself, and must work with our elected leaders in Congress and satisfy the courts in a fashion our Founding Fathers envisioned.”
Excerpts from the ruling are below:
- “What is perhaps most perplexing about the Defendants’ claim that DAPA is merely ‘guidance’ is the President’s own labeling of the program. In formally announcing DAPA to the nation for the first time, President Obama stated, ‘I just took an action to change the law.’”
- “The DAPA program clearly represents a substantive change in immigration policy. It is a program instituted to give a certain, newly-adopted class of 4.3 million illegal immigrants not only ‘legal presence’ in the United States, but also the right to work legally and the right to receive a myriad of governmental benefits to which they would not otherwise be entitled. It does more than ‘supplement’ the statute’; if anything, it contradicts the INA. It is, in effect, a new law.”
- “[T]he States assert that the Government has abandoned its duty to enforce the law. This assertion cannot be disputed.”
- “Non-enforcement does not entail refusing to remove these individuals as required by the law and then providing three years of immunity from that law, legal presence status, plus any benefits that may accompany legal presence under current regulations.”
- “DAPA does not represent mere inadequacy; it is complete abdication. The DHS does have discretion in the manner in which it chooses to fulfill the expressed will of Congress. It cannot, however, enact a program whereby it not only ignores the dictates of Congress, but actively acts to thwart them.”
- “The DHS Secretary is not just rewriting the laws; he is creating them from scratch.”
- “The Court finds Defendants’ labeling [of the action as a guidance policy] disingenuous and, as discussed below, contrary to the substance of DAPA.”
- “[T]here are millions of dollars at stake in the form of unrecoverable costs to the States if DAPA is implemented and later found unlawful in terms of infrastructure and personnel to handle the influx of applications.”
- “This genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle.”
- “This Court finds that, directly interested or not, the public interest factor that weighs the heaviest is ensuring that actions of the Executive Branch (and within it, the DHS – one of the nation’s most important law enforcement agencies) comply with this country’s laws and its Constitution.”