AUSTIN, Texas — Texas leaders are united in opposition and ready to battle President Barack Obama over his unilateral attempt to protect millions of illegal immigrants from being deported. In a televised speech to the nation Thursday evening, Obama announced he was issuing a series of executive orders to enact immigration reform, and will likely soon face a lawsuit from the State of Texas, as well as other states with Republican leadership.
As Breitbart Texas reported, Obama declared that he would be taking “actions that I have the legal authority to take as President” that would liberalize the rules for work visas for highly skilled graduates and entrepreneurs as well as allowing millions of illegal immigrants to avoid deportation through “deferred action” if they had been in the United States more than five years, have children here who are citizens or legal residents, register with the government, pass a criminal background check, and pay back taxes.
Governor-elect Greg Abbott, the outgoing Attorney General who will serve in that role until January, vowed that Texas would respond with “immediate” legal action. “President Obama has circumvented Congress and deliberately bypassed the will of the American people, eroding the very foundation of our nation’s Constitution and bestowing a legacy of lawlessness,” said Abbott. “Texans have witnessed firsthand the costs and consequences caused by President Obama’s dictatorial immigration policy and now we must work together toward a solution in fixing our broken immigration system. Following tonight’s pronouncement, I am prepared to immediately challenge President Obama in court, securing our state’s sovereignty and guaranteeing the rule of law as it was intended under the Constitution.”
Abbott had made the same promise in an appearance on Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor, as Breitbart Texas reported. “We are prepared to assert legal action against the President because we believe that what the President is doing is completely unconstitutional,” said Abbott. “He has a legal obligation to enforce the laws, [and] immigration is assigned by the Constitution to the United States Congress to determine, not the President.”
On Wednesday, in a speech delivered at the Republican Governors Association’s annual meeting, Governor Perry called Obama’s planned executive orders as “unconstitutional” and said that it was “a very real possibility” that Texas would file suit to block him from taking action, as Breitbart Texas reported. After Thursday’s speech, Perry slammed Obama’s plan as “bad policy” that would put children at risk by serving as a magnet for additional future illegal immigration. “In Texas we know firsthand the problems brought by illegal immigration and bad federal policy,” said Perry. “As we saw with the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors who came across the border, a bad policy led to children being put at risk. The president’s decision tonight will lead to more illegal immigration, not less. It is time for the president and Congress to secure our border, followed by meaningful reforms. There is no more time for political grandstanding.”
Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst shared Perry’s view that the President’s announcement would just inspire more illegal immigration. In a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas, Dewhurst said, “Instead of offering meaningful reform, President Obama flipped the switch on a big magnet for more illegal immigration tonight. Once again, Texas and our fellow border states will have to bear the burden of his misguided, unilateral attempts at change.”
Abbott’s successor, Attorney General-elect Ken Paxton, is prepared to take up the battle when he is sworn into the office in January. In a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas, Paxton spokesman Anthony Holm said, “The American people are rightfully concerned about the lawless actions of President Obama tonight. The President repeatedly told the nation he does not have the power to unilaterally make these changes to our immigration system, yet he did so tonight. Attorney General Abbott has indicated that he may initiate a lawsuit challenging the President’s actions, and as Attorney General, Ken Paxton will also aggressively defend Texas against the lawlessness of this administration.”
Sharing a border with Mexico that is more than 1,200 miles long, Texas is on the front lines of America’s immigration debate, spending over $800 million on border security efforts since 2007. This week, Perry, Dewhurst, and Speaker Joe Straus announced a plan to spend an additional $86 million — derived from surpluses in several state budget accounts — on a border security initiative that would put more active boots on the ground, by phasing out Texas National Guard troops, who cannot legally detain suspected illegal immigrants, and replacing them with additional personnel from the Texas Department of Public Safety, who are legally empowered to make arrests.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker