Five Republican governors are so upset with President Obama’s executive actions regarding the nation’s immigration system they are ready to take the nation’s chief executive to court.
A sixth, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, did not raise the possibility of a lawsuit in her response to Obama’s executive actions. But she did blast the president — whose Justice Department sued Arizona over its immigration enforcement practices four years ago — for “thwarting Congress and the American people.”
“Evidently this president must be reminded that we, the American people, elected a president that serves beneath the law. We did not anoint a tyrannical king that is above the law,” she said in a statement.
Brewer spokeswoman Annie Dockendorff said while the governor “strongly believes that President Obama’s executive amnesty is absolutely wrong for America — and likely outside his presidential authority — no decisions have yet been made in regards to legal action against the president.”
Brewer may not sue Obama, but Arizona Gov.-elect Doug Ducey (R) said the immigrants who will be able to stop worrying about deportation will not be driving, legally, in Arizona.
Ducey said he will not change Brewer’s order that barred undocumented immigrants from receiving Arizona driver’s licenses.
“I am prepared to work with our congressional delegation, other border state governors and the president on this issue, but [Obama’s] move will make those bipartisan efforts nearly impossible,” Ducey added.
At least two other GOP governors are not joining the chorus of outrage.
Ohio’s John Kasich said it could be best to go along with Obama’s order. Michigan’s Rick Snyder has been focused on encouraging immigration reform for the past 11 months.
Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) told NBC’s Chuck Todd during a panel discussion the day before the president’s executive actions were announced that his state’s attorney general and the next governor, Greg Abbott, described the AG’s job as “I go into work, I sue President Obama and I go home.”
It will soon be just another day at the office for Abbott. Perry has promised to file suit.
“In Texas we know firsthand the problems brought by illegal immigration and bad federal policy. 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,” said Perry in a statement released by his office.
“The president’s decision 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.”
Abbott promised to get to the courthouse quickly, arguing that the new order will hurt Texas, thus the state is a plaintiff with standing to sue.
“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,” he said.
Abbott told Fox News Sunday that following the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program of 2012, Texas saw 1,000 people a day streaming across the border from Mexico.
“Because they believed DACA allowed them to come here,” he said. “We are going to face the same challenges now that we faced then.”
He argued Obama violated clause to “take care to faithfully execute the laws” under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution.
Texas state Senator Donna Campbell (R), who has introduced legislation that would stop state officials from penalizing Texans who don’t purchase health insurance, said Obama has “recklessly put the rights of foreign citizens before the rights of American citizens and therefore the rule of law.”
“At a time when national unemployment for African-Americans is at an alarming 11.4 percent and unemployment for Hispanics is at 7.5 percent, granting even temporary amnesty to non-citizens illegally in this country harms out-of-work Americans looking to provide for their families,” she also said.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was another voice in the Texan chorus of outrage when he spoke on the floor of the Senate the day before Obama’s immigration address.
Never one to go for understatement when hyperbole will do, Cruz invoked Cicero’s famous warning to the citizens of Rome more than 2,000 years ago.
“When, President Obama, do you mean to cease abusing our patience? How long is that madness of yours still to mock us? Shame on the age and on its principles! The Senate is aware of these things; the Senate sees them; and yet this man dictates by his pen and phone. Dictates! Aye, he won’t even come into the Senate.”
Et tu, Gov. Perry?
Perry is not only bound and determined not to follow the president’s lead in Texas, he has reached an agreement to pay for a “state-led border surge” that is subject to legislative approval Dec. 1.
“Texas has proven beyond any doubt that this border can be secured, even if the federal government refuses to take the steps necessary to do so as required by the Constitution,” Perry said.
Not everyone in Texas is jumping on that train.
Gilberto Hinojosa, the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, said members of his party “applaud President Obama for taking the initiative to find a solution to our broken immigration system.”
“Texas Republicans like U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Rick Perry continue their divisive rhetoric without offering any solution to our broken and outdated immigration system,” Hinojosa said.
He also said while Texas Democrats support the president’s executive action, they “look forward to Congress working together to pass permanent, comprehensive immigration reform legislation.”
Perry is not the only Republican governor who raised the possibility of court action against President Obama.
Nor is he the only public official with a lawyer on his payroll.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., told ABC 15 KNXV-TV Phoenix on Nov. 20 his lawyer would file suit as soon as Obama was finished explaining his executive actions on immigration to the American public.
Arpaio said his suit alleged the presidential order intended to bring more than 5 million undocumented immigrants “out of the shadows” was blatantly unconstitutional.
Arpaio is also worried about what the presidential order will mean for law enforcement.
“He speaks a good game — and I understand where he’s coming from in a way — on the other hand, let’s not con the American public. How are we gonna keep track of these 5 million people?” said Arpaio.
Litigation loves company.
Arpaio’s attorney and Greg Abbott won’t be alone fighting this battle over the constitutionality and practicality of the president’s executive actions.
The governors of four states in addition to Texas — Wisconsin, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Indiana — said they were willing to sue Obama to stop his executive order.
Gov. Pat McCrory (R-N.C.) agreed a long-term solution to immigration reform is needed. He is working on that with his fellow governors.
But McCrory said they were also working together to fashion “an appropriate legal response to this unconstitutional overreach of the White House.”
It might seem that since North Carolina is not a border state, McCrory wouldn’t have a dog in this fight. However, he said North Carolina is impacted by illegal immigration.
“I’m extremely concerned about the potentially negative impact of this executive order on our public schools, health services and public safety,” McCrory explained.
Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said the nation’s immigration system is in need of reform. But he also believes unilateral presidential action is not the way to accomplish that goal.
“While reasonable people can differ on ways to improve our nation’s broken immigration system, the president’s unilateral action is an unacceptable end run around the democratic process and must be reversed,” he said. “The proper place to debate immigration policy is through the legislative process defined in our Constitution.”
“The state of Indiana will carefully evaluate the details of the Executive Order and take any available legal actions necessary to restore the rule of law and proper balance to our constitutional system of government,” Pence added.
Ryan Call, the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, believes serious immigration reforms are needed, too.
“However, the president’s outrageous decision to do an end-run around Congress and alter immigration policy by executive fiat flies in the face of the Constitution and our principles of representative democracy,” said Call.
Call also said the president’s executive order would make it harder for Congress to “trust him as an honest partner,” and work toward meaningful reform.
“President Obama is thumbing his nose at the American people, ignoring the clear message they sent just two weeks ago when they elected Republicans to control both chambers of Congress.”
Bobby Schostak, the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, said there is a limit to what the White House can do, constitutionally.
“For six years, President Obama correctly stated he does not have the authority to issue this kind of executive order – President Obama should take his own advice. This goes outside those bounds and sets a dangerous precedent for future presidents,” said Schostak.
Michigan Gov. Snyder has not added his voice to the five Republican governors who raised the possibility of challenging the president’s order in court.
Snyder is actually working to encourage immigration in Michigan, and has been since January 2014.
“That’s how we made our country great,” said Snyder.
Snyder has called for reforms to welcome legal immigrants to Michigan, including an expansion of visas for the city of Detroit and the creation of the Michigan Office for New Americans to help attract “highly skilled immigrants to Detroit.”
“Detroit is one of America’s great cities, yet today it is struggling amidst bankruptcy and a population that has dropped from over 1.8 million in 1950 to 700,000 today,” Snyder said. “Immigrants were key to the city’s greatness, and immigration can play a critical role in its comeback.”
Ohio’s Kasich is taking the middle road following the Obama executive order.
The Republican said he does have a problem with “people who jump the line” and set up housekeeping in the U.S. illegally. However, he also said it might be best to follow the president’s lead.
“We have to think about what is going to bring about healing,” said Kasich. “Everybody in this country has to feel like they have an opportunity.”