Jumping ahead of Republicans in Congress, 17 states on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging President Obama's executive action to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Leading the coalition of mostly Republican states is Greg Abbott, governor-elect of Texas who is completing his final weeks as attorney general of the dominant Southern border state. Filed in Texas, the suit charges that Obama is violating his constitutional duty to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed" along with other federal laws. "That unilateral suspension of the nation’s immigration laws is unlawful," the lawsuit said. "Only this court’s immediate intervention can protect the plaintiffs from dramatic and irreparable injuries."
The White House expected a bevy of legal challenges to Obama's action, and the multi-state lawsuit isn't even the first to be filed: Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County in Arizona, the famous crusader against illegal immigration, went to court against the president within hours of his prime-time announcement last month. Aides to Speaker John Boehner have also not ruled out a lawsuit on behalf of the House of Representatives, which has already sued the Obama administration over its implementation of the Affordable Care Act. There is also the question of which parties have the legal standing to challenge the decision: While it is common for states, through their attorneys general, to sue the federal government, there is much less precedent for one chamber of Congress to file suit against the executive branch.