Mike Lillis, The Hill, May 11, 2015
Top Republicans in Congress on Monday entered the court battle over President Obama’s latest moves to ease deportations for immigrants living in the country illegally.
Texas and 25 other states have challenged the legality of the unilateral actions, arguing that the president overstepped his executive power with programs halting deportations and granting work permits to certain groups of illegal immigrants.
The Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (Va.), are siding squarely with the states, arguing Obama’s executive action “changes the law and sets a new policy, exceeding the executive’s constitutional authority and disrupting the delicate balance of powers.”
“Congress has created a comprehensive immigration scheme–which expresses its desired policy as to classes of immigrants–but the class identified by the [Homeland Security Department] directive for categorical relief is unsupported by this scheme,” the lawmakers wrote in an amicus brief filed with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
“Instead of setting enforcement priorities,” they added, “it created a class-based program that establishes eligibility requirements that, if met, grant unlawful immigrants a renewable lawful presence in the United States and substantive benefits.”
The brief was endorsed by 113 Republicans, including Sens. John Cornyn (Texas), the majority whip, and Ted Cruz (Texas), a 2016 presidential hopeful. In the House, the supporters include Reps. Trey Gowdy (S.C.); Tom Price (Ga.); Michael McCaul (Texas), head of the Homeland Security Committee; and Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the former head of the Judiciary panel.
The administration has appealed Hanen’s temporary injunction, arguing the case before the 5th Circuit last month. The court has yet to rule on the challenge.
The Republicans’ amicus brief argues that the injunction should remain in place while the courts weigh the underlying case.
“President Obama’s decision to ignore the limits placed on his power and act unilaterally to rewrite our nation’s immigration laws are an affront to the Constitution,” Goodlatte said Monday in a statement.