Greg Abbott once described his job as attorney general as, “I go into the office, I sue the federal government and I go home.” In keeping with tradition, that’s exactly how he’s spending his last month before being sworn in as governor.
Yesterday Abbott filed a lawsuit on behalf of seventeen states in an attempt to block President Obama’s executive action on immigration, which would temporarily protect immigrants who have been in the country for longer than five years, have children and pass criminal background checks from deportation. The other red states joining in the lawsuit are Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
“The President’s unilateral executive action tramples the U.S. Constitution’s Take Care Clause and federal law,” Abbott said in a statement. “The Constitution’s Take Care Clause limits the President’s power and ensures that he will faithfully execute Congress’s laws – not rewrite them under the guise of ‘prosecutorial discretion.’” But the Obama Administration is confident that the executive action is legal, as evidenced by other Supreme Court cases allowing the president to set enforcement priorities.
According to the Texas Tribune, other legal scholars agree that the case’s legal underpinnings are weak. According to Michael Olivas, an immigration lawyer and professor at the University of Houston, “It’s ill advised, I don’t think [Abbott] has standing, he gets the basic terminology wrong and he protests too much when he says he’s not politicizing it, because all of it is simply about the politics of it. He characterizes what the president did as an executive order — it is not an executive order. It’s executive action.” But that hasn’t deterred Abbott.
“It didn’t take long for Greg Abbott to get back to his old tricks,” Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Will Hailer said in a statement. “As Abbott prepares to transition out of the Attorney General’s office, he will leave behind a shameful legacy. Abbott has spent more time attacking the President than protecting Texas families. My hope for the future Governor of Texas is that he stops these irresponsible attacks on the President and redirects his energy to building a better future for all Texans.”
As Ben Sherman reported in his previous post on Abbott’s threat to sue, Greg Abbott has filed lawsuits against the federal government over 30 times as attorney general. In the vast majority of the cases, Texas lost, and in the process spent over 14,000 staff hours fighting fruitlessly. It’s a high price to pay just to make a statement – and Texas taxpayers are the ones footing the bill.
“Gov.-Elect Greg Abbott once again showed us that he is far more committed to deporting families than he is to offering solutions to fix our broken immigration system and keeping families together,” said Ginny Goldman, the Texas Organizing Project’s executive director. “His decision to sue the Obama administration for the 31st time, this time for a lawful executive action granting temporary administrative relief to millions of undocumented immigrants, shows that the Texas Republican party’s immigration policy is to leave millions of families vulnerable to exploitation and under the threat of being separated by deportations.”
Abbott may see this lawsuit as a way to become a conservative hero, but sooner or later coming out against immigration will become as detrimental politically as it already is practically. Omar Araiza reported that over three-fourths of Latino Republicans oppose GOP efforts to block the executive order. As Latinos become a larger share of the state and the country, something has to give. Either politicians will give up anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric, or voters will give up on anti-immigrant politicians.