House Speaker John Boehner told Republicans in a closed-door meeting today that he is moving towards a plan to authorize legal action against the White House over President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
According to a source who attended the meeting, Boehner, R-Ohio, told lawmakers that the House will pursue a legal course that “gives us the best chance of success.”
In November, Obama acted alone to shield up to 5 million immigrants here illegally from deportation and grant them work permits.
For Boehner to proceed, the House would have to approve a resolution authorizing him to take legal action on immigration, as it did last July in connection with a lawsuit over the Affordable Care Act.
According to a House GOP leadership aide, legal options include joining an already filed lawsuit from more than half of U.S. states on Obama’s executive action or filing a separate lawsuit.
No decisions have been made on the specific legal action House Republicans would use.
Whatever the form, the lawsuit would likely allege that Obama failed his “constitutional obligation that all laws are faithfully executed,” said John Malcolm, director of The Heritage Foundation’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies.
Malcolm told The Daily Signal that he is skeptical that such a lawsuit could prevail.
“I’m not saying it’s impossible or not worth it, but getting a court to weigh in on this is not going to be easy,” Malcolm said.
“With the Obamacare lawsuit, there was clear statutory deadlines. Obamacare says, ‘You must do the following by this date.’ Immigration is a dicier matter. There’s more wiggle room in the law. Also, the Obamacare case provides a better chance at establishing standing. On immigration, you will have problems establishing standing. In addition to the fact that our immigration laws are less clear in terms of its commands, the plaintiffs will have to show that the president’s actions led to the harm alleged. The president will argue that this is an exercise of prosecutorial discretion and that he is not saying that they [illegal immigrants] will never be removed. He’s just deferring action against them.”
Even though the chance of success may be small, Democrats quickly criticized Republicans’ plan to use the courts.
“Once again, House Republicans are crawling to the courts to relieve them of their responsibility to govern,” says @NancyPelosi.
“Once again, House Republicans are crawling to the courts to relieve them of their responsibility to govern,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., said in a written statement. “Republicans should stop wasting millions of taxpayer dollars suing the president and start showing some seriousness for the security of the American people.”
The GOP is also using legislative means to confront the administration on immigration.
“Obviously, we will continue to vigorously pursue legislative options, including the House-passed DHS bill, as well,” the leadership aide said.
Earlier this month, the House passed far-reaching legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security through September and undo President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said today that his chamber will take up the House bill after it finishes work on the Keystone XL pipeline.