Texas Likely to Sue Obama Over Immigration

Plotting his final act as attorney general.
Plotting his final act as attorney general.
Gage Skidmore

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, soon to make his home in the governor's mansion, says the "odds are in favor" of Texas suing the federal government to prevent the implementation of President Obama's proposed executive or to stop the deportation of certain undocumented immigrant who have been in the country for more than five years.

"The president has crossed the line from politics to endangering the constitutional structure," Abbott said Monday afternoon.

The United States' immigration system is broken, Abbott acknowledged, but an "executive fiat" is not the way to fix i. The president is not exercising prosecutorial discretion, the attorney general argued, because the number of people affected is so large. If Obama's action is allowed, Abbott suggested that a future Republican president could similarly act on things like taxes and environmental regulations.

"A future president could dispense criminal liability for the failure to pay income taxes," he said. "[The president] could suspend Dodd-Frank or EPA laws."

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Abbott also said that prosecutorial discretion only allows for passing on holding someone criminally liable for breaking the law. Obama's action, he said, would both get rid of criminal liability and place a burden on services in the places where the undocumented people who will benefit from the executive action live.

That burden is what gives Texas standing to sue, he said.

"Texas as a state, more than any other body in this country, has standing to challenge this law," he said.

The state has already been damaged by DACA -- the Obama policy that stopped the deportation of many young people in the United States illegally -- so it can anticipate further damages from the president's new actions.

Abbott says he plans to make a final decision on whether to sue in the next two weeks. If and when he does, he said, he expects the case to both make it to and be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court quickly.

"[The case] will define the future of power in our country," he said.


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