In a joint press conference at the Texas Capitol on Wednesday, Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and Attorney General Ken Paxton addressed the recent temporary injunction imposed by a federal judge in Texas on President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty order. All four praised the decision by Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, and said that they were “confident” the ruling would survive any appeals.
Last November, Obama had announced his plan to use his executive order power to grant protection to millions of immigrants here illegally from deportation, as Breitbart Texas reported. Within days, Abbott, who was finishing his term as Texas’ Attorney General, announced Texas would lead a multi-state coalition in a lawsuit against Obama’s executive amnesty. Ultimately, twenty-six states joined Texas in the lawsuit.
Judge Hanen’s ruling specifically stated that the president did not have the authority to take this action, and prohibited the President, along with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other relevant agencies and departments under the executive branch, “from implementing any and all aspects or phases” of the President’s executive amnesty plan.
Abbott spoke first. “My 31st and last lawsuit against President Obama may turn out to be the one that has the greatest constitutional consequence,” he said.
“This was a victory for America, and the rule of law, and the Constitution,” Abbott said referring to the judge’s ruling. He added he was “confident” that “we will continue to win” and that the case would hold up all the way to the Supreme Court.
“My primary witness was President Obama himself,” he said, explaining that Obama had said twenty-two times that he did not have the constitutional authority to take the action that he too. Following his action, Abbott said the President had bragged, “I just changed the law.”
During a question and answer period, Abbott expounded on his confidence for victory. He said it was unnecessary for the judge to dig any deeper because the determination that the President created new law by creating work documents was enough to make it unconstitutional.
He said this was just a label on a much bigger issue. “The President cannot fabricate or create laws,” Abbott said. “What the President did was to create new law from scratch.”
Abbott then introduced Paxton, who inherited the lawsuit when he took over the Attorney General’s office from Abbott.
Paxton thanked Abbott for his work on the case and called the action taken by the President “an overreaching, unprecedented act.”
“Make no mistake,” Paxton continued. “This was about far more than an immigration plan. It is about circumventing the Congress when it is too difficult to pass legislation.”
“This is certainly not the American way,” Paxton stated.
Cruz began his remarks by thanking Abbott, Patrick, and Paxton for their work representing Texas. “I’m very glad to be home,” said the Senator, to celebrate this “major victory for the rule of law,” and “I’m very proud that Texas led the way” in the litigation.
Cruz characterized the court’s ruling as “very simple,” saying that the President’s executive amnesty was “on its face illegal.” The Obama Administration had tried to argue that it was merely a matter of “prosecutorial discretion,” but the court, said Cruz, had “quite powerfully” rejected this argument. Obama’s order, Cruz continued, was beyond “simply declining to prosecute” millions, but instead, by affirmatively granting work authorizations that were “flatly contrary to federal law,” the Administration would in essence be “counterfeiting federal documents.”
The Senator continued his criticism of the President, noting that while Obama had said that he would respect the court order, his administration was still continuing preparations to implement this illegal amnesty. According to Cruz, DHS is in the process of securing office space and hiring over a thousand employees to implement this program, which Cruz said was in violation of the court order.
Next week, Congress returns to vote on the DHS funding bill, said Cruz, which the House has already passed. “We should fund the DHS,” said Cruz, but the Senate Democrats have been holding the funding “hostage,” filibustering the bill three times to protect Obama’s executive amnesty, which has now been declared illegal. Obama has put the Democrats in a “difficult position,” continued Cruz, and he called on them to allow the bill to proceed to a vote.
Patrick spoke next, praising his colleagues as “three of the greatest constitutional minds in the country.” Patrick said that he had breathed a “deep sigh of relief” when the court’s ruling was released, saying that he hoped it would “give us some time to force Washington to act” on immigration, homeland security, and to continue to strengthen border security efforts.
If Obama’s executive amnesty had been allowed to be implemented, said Patrick, he believed that it would have sparked a new wave of people seeking to cross the border illegally, and posed an increased strain on Texas’ resources.
“The fact that this has now been halted I hope would send a message to those who would come here illegally,” said Patrick, that we want people to come to Texas but to do so legally, and we will continue to protect the border.
Bob Price contributed to this report. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.