Texas Republicans on Wednesday continued their celebration of a federal judge’s decision to halt President Obama’s executive action on immigration, expressing confidence that the state will prevail as the case moves through the higher courts.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Attorney General Ken Paxton and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick joined Gov. Greg Abbott at a Capitol press conference where Abbott, the state’s former attorney general who filed the suit before being sworn in as governor, said a key witness bolstering the state’s case was the president himself.
Obama’s policy, announced in November, would have made as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants — including some 1.46 million in Texas — eligible for a renewable work permit and temporary relief from deportation.
But on Monday, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Brownsville ruled that the president violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs the way federal policies are crafted and how much public input is taken. Twenty-five other states have joined the lawsuit since December.
White House officials on Tuesday said they will file an appeal in the next few days.
“I am confident that as this case works its way up through the appellate process, we will continue to win,” Abbott said. “And I am confident because of the primary witness in this case, and that is President Barack Obama himself, who said 22 times he did not have the authority to do what he did.”
Paxton, who has taken over Abbott's old office and the case, said the policy would “cause major repercussions on every facet of society.”
“And it would have been made without the input of the states that would have been most affected and without input of the United States Congress,” he added.
The ruling has also ramped up debate over how Congress should move forward with a measure to keep the Department of Homeland Security, including the U.S. Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection, funded beyond February.
House Republicans passed a measure that would fund DHS but block the president's executive order. Senate Democrats have kept the measure from coming up for a vote three times, preferring instead to vote on a funding mechanism that doesn’t include the executive order language.
On Wednesday, Cruz said Hanen’s decision means Democrats should end the gridlock.
“President Obama has placed Senate Democrats in a very difficult, in fact, in an impossible position,” he said. “That amnesty program has now been declared illegal by a federal court, so Senate Democrats should look very closely at this opinion and decide if they are willing to jeopardize national security, which is both reckless and irresponsible.”
Asked if Democrats could make the counterargument — that Republicans don’t need to defund the executive action if a judge has already halted it — Cruz said that wasn’t what U.S. senators promised their constituents.
“Of course Senate Democrats can say the reverse, and they likely will. Their position is always, ‘Why do you need to stand up for rule of law? Why do you need to stand up for the Constitution? Why do you need to stand up against amnesty?’” he said. “There are several reasons; one is the simplest: It’s because the elected representatives make those promises to the people.”
Texas Democrats were quick to pounce on the group after the news conference, saying the pack of Republicans was working against what’s best for Texans.
“Once again, our elected officials have proven they don’t have the best interests for the state of Texas. Governor Abbott’s lawsuit against the President’s actions hurts our families, and our economy,” Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement. “These [immigration] programs are not only the right and moral thing to do, but they make good economic sense for Texas. Once the high courts overturn this misguided ruling, Texas can expect to see an $8.2 billion increase in the state's GDP to $19.2 billion over the next ten years.”