Dems: Immigration actions are legal

Greg Nash

Nearly every House Democrat endorsed a legal brief on Monday supporting President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

A total of 181 House Democrats signed onto an amicus brief in a Texas court that argues Obama's deferred deportation programs should be allowed to move forward.

"Congress has vested the Secretary of Homeland Security with broad discretion to determine how best to implement the immigration laws, including the particular decisions embodied in the Deferred Action Memorandum," the brief states.

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A Texas district court judge in February issued a preliminary injunction that halted Obama's executive actions.

The order came after 26 states, led by Texas, filed a lawsuit challenging Obama's actions as unconstitutional.

In their brief, the Democrats argued that the expansion of programs to delay deportations of illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and parents of legal citizens are within the executive branch's authority.

The House Democrats maintained that allowing the Texas district court judge's ruling to stand would establish a slippery slope for executive and, ultimately, congressional power.

"The ruling therefore threatens the executive's ability to enforce statutes, within resource constraints, in a manner that remains faithful to Congress's intent, and in turn threatens Congress's ability to enact effective legislation," the lawmakers stated in the brief.

All members of the House Democratic leadership, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), Assistant Leader James Clyburn (S.C.) and Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.), endorsed the document.

Twelve of the 188 Democrats in the House didn't sign onto the brief.

The 12 Democrats who left their names off are mostly centrists and members who will face tough reelection races next year: Reps. Brad Ashford (Neb.), Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Gwen Graham (Fla.), Rick Larsen (Wash.), Dan Lipinski (Ill.), Stephen Lynch (Mass.), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Peter Visclosky (Ind.) and Tim Walz (Minn.).

Five non-voting delegates who caucus with the Democrats were among the brief's signatories: Madeleine Bordallo (Guam), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Pedro Pierluisi (Puerto Rico), Stacey Plaskett (Virgin Islands) and Gregorio Sablan (Northern Mariana Islands).

Earlier Monday, more than 70 city and county leaders submitted a similar legal brief arguing that Obama's executive actions be allowed to proceed.

The Justice Department has filed an appeal of the Texas court's decision. That case is now in the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

— Updated at 4 p.m.

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