WASHINGTON -- More than half of U.S. states are now involved in a lawsuit to stop President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration, with the addition of Nevada and Tennessee announced Monday by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The 26 states challenging Obama's actions are led by Texas, which filed its lawsuit in December. The lawsuit contends Obama overstepped his constitutional authority in executive actions on immigration that may provide deportation relief and work authorization for up to 5 million people.
"The momentum against the president's lawlessness continues to build with Tennessee and Nevada joining the effort to protect our states from the economic and public safety implications of illegal amnesty," Paxton said in a statement on Monday. "As President Obama himself has said numerous times, he lacks the authority to impose amnesty. His actions represent a blatant case of overreach and clear abuse of power."
A federal judge heard initial arguments on the case Jan. 15. The states are seeking to block implementation of the programs as the lawsuit makes its way through the courts. The judge has not yet ruled.
Obama announced in November that he would create a new program to allow undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to obtain temporary work authorization to remain in the country. The administration also plans to expand the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA, that provides similar relief and work permits to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. years ago as children.
The White House has said the policies fit within the president's authority based on the principle of prosecutorial discretion, allowing immigration enforcement agents to focus on deporting high-priority offenders such as national security threats, convicted criminals and people who recently crossed the border illegally.
A smaller group of states has come together in support of the Obama administration on immigration executive action. Twelve states and the District of Columbia filed an amicus brief siding with the Obama administration on Jan. 12, followed by a group of about 30 mayors on Monday.
The mayors said Friday when announcing their brief that Obama's policies will improve their cities' economies and make residents more willing to engage with police.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who supports executive action on immigration, issued a statement Monday afternoon criticizing his state's attorney general for joining the lawsuit.
“This is embarrassing," Reid said. "No other state in the country will benefit more from President Obama’s executive actions than Nevada. The irresponsible decision to join a lawsuit that will cause family separation is harmful to our communities."
The 26 states involved in the lawsuit, according to Texas, are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.