Indiana has joined a lawsuit filed by 17 states challenging executive actions taken by President Barrack Obama on immigration last month.
Gov. Mike Pence announced Wednesday afternoon that he directed Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller to join the lawsuit filed that same day in federal court in Texas.
“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 and 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,” Pence said in a statement.
“This lawsuit seeks to have the federal courts restore the rule of law and proper balance to our constitutional system of government. I encourage the President to rescind his executive order and immediately begin to work with Congress to pass legislation that will secure our nation’s border and update our immigration laws. That is the proper way to deal with this or any other issue our nation faces.”
Obama announced Nov. 20 several immigration accountability executive actions, which include granting temporary legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants – as long as they meet certain criteria – who have lived in the United States for more than five years, are parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. Preliminary estimates show nearly 5 million individuals may be eligible.
The president pointed to Congress’ inaction for his decision to issue the actions.
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."
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.
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 Texas Gov.-elect Greg 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.
The federal lawsuit involves the following states: Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
The Office of the Indiana Attorney General is not representing the state in the lawsuit. It granted consent to hire outside counsel. Barnes & Thornburg LLP attorney Joseph C. Chapelle is listed in the suit as counsel for the state of Indiana.
“Although the Attorney General’s Office typically represents state government in lawsuits, from time to time state officeholders and agencies make a specific policy request for legal representation that can most effectively be provided through using outside counsel. State statute permits state entities to hire outside counsel with the Attorney General’s consent, and our office agrees that using outside counsel at the trial court level is appropriate in this lawsuit,” Indiana Attorney General spokesman Bryan Corbin said.
A copy of the lawsuit is available here.