Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has joined with Texas and 15 other states in a legal challenge to President Barack Obama’s unilateral decision to stop enforcing parts of federal immigration law.
The Texas-led lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Brownsville, Texas, seeks a declaration that the president lacked constitutional authority to abandon enforcement of various provisions of federal immigration law. The suit asks the federal court to find instead that the president was obligated to follow the U.S. Constitution’s requirement that he “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” as Congress wrote them.
“Until recently, the president repeatedly made clear that there is a lawful way to fix the nation’s broken immigration system and an unlawful way,” Schmidt said. “Until he reversed course last month, the president correctly insisted that he lacked authority under the Constitution to essentially suspend the law or rewrite it to suit his preferences.”
The president’s announcement of “executive action” in November directs federal authorities to change how they enforce federal immigration law, abandoning various statutory requirements entirely. The states’ lawsuit asks the federal court to order the federal agencies to disregard the president’s ‘executive action’ and instead to follow the requirements set forth in the statutes.
“Congress has a constitutional and a moral obligation to fix our country’s broken immigration system,” Schmidt said. “There are many important interests involved in this complex debate, including many in Kansas. The diverse interests of our state in immigration reform are best served when Kansas voices in Congress are part of the solution, and the country is best served when the president and federal agencies follow the law and the Constitution. Frustration arising from political gridlock is not an excuse for a president to bypass Congress, ignoring the law and the Constitution.”
In addition to Texas and Kansas, the states filing suit included Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Governors Phil Bryant of Mississippi, Paul R. LePage of Maine, Patrick L. McCrory of North Carolina, and C.L. “Butch” Otter of Idaho also joined as plaintiffs in the case.
The cost of the litigation will be borne by Texas. The case is Texas v. United States.