Texas is leading a 17-state coalition that includes Indiana in suing over the Obama administration's recently announced executive actions on immigration.
Many top Republicans have denounced President Barack Obama's unilateral move designed to spare as many as 5 million people living illegally in the United States from deportation.
But Texas Gov.-elect Greg Abbott took it a step further Wednesday, filing a lawsuit in federal court in the Southern District of Texas. Texas is joined by 16 other states: Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Under Obama's order, announced Nov. 20, protection from deportation and the right to work will be extended to an estimated 4.1 million parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years and to hundreds of thousands more young people.
Abbott argued Wednesday that Obama's action "tramples" portions of the U.S. Constitution.
The lawsuit raises three objections: that Obama violated the "Take Care Clause" of the U.S. Constitution that limits the scope of presidential power; that the federal government violated rulemaking procedures; and that the order will "exacerbate the humanitarian crisis along the southern border, which will affect increased state investment in law enforcement, health care and education."
Wednesday's announcement marks the 31st time the attorney general in this fiercely conservative state has brought action against the federal government since Obama took office in 2009. The only other high-profile lawsuit against the immigration action has come on behalf of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
“While reasonable people can differ on ways to improve our nation’s broken immigration system, the President’s unilateral action was an unacceptable end run around the democratic process," Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said in a written statement. "Joining other states in pursuing legal recourse to challenge this action is the right thing to do. This lawsuit is not about immigration. It is about denying states such as ours the opportunity to be represented in policy making through our elected members of Congress."
House Majority Leader John Boehner told lawmakers this week that the GOP-led House may vote to undo Obama's executive action, but the move would be mostly symbolic, as Obama would certainly veto such legislation and the Democratic-led Senate would go for it, either.
Potential 2016 presidential candidate and current Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who leaves office in January, also spoke out against the executive order earlier Wednesday, saying it could trigger a new flood of people pouring across the Texas-Mexico border. Perry and Abbott also have said the order will promote a culture of lawlessness.
Perry said at a news conference that Obama's 2012 executive order delaying the deportation of children brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents triggered an unprecedented wave of unaccompanied minors and families, mostly from Central America, crossing into the U.S. this summer.
"In effect, his action placed a neon sign on our border, assuring people that they could ignore the law of the United States," said Perry, who has deployed up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the border.