Democrats File Brief to Defend Obama's Immigration Policies

MIAMI, FL - Dian Alarcon, originally from Colombia, stands with others to protest a Texas court's preliminary injunction on Obama's action on immigration. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Congressional Democrats will file an amicus brief on Tuesday before the U.S. Supreme Court to defend President Obama's immigration executive actions, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced.  

Obama's actions, which aim to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from being deported, "fall well within the legal and Constitutional precedents set by every Democratic and Republican president since Eisenhower,” the California and Nevada Democrats said in a joint statement. "In fact, in the absence of Congressional action, Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush themselves took bold action to protect the spouses and children of people who received status under the IRCA of 1986."  

The state of Texas challenged the legality of Obama's executive actions in court. An appellate court ruled the president overstepped the law. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case, United States v. Texas , in April.  

The Democrats' brief, expected later on Tuesday, will argue that Congress, by not taking action, encouraged the president to use executive resources "in a rational and effective manner on cases in which the nation’s interest in removal is strongest, to provide the maximum return on Congress’s sizable but necessarily limited investment in immigration enforcement."  

All but seven of the 188 House Democrats signed onto the brief. They include Brad Ashford of Nebraska, Rick Larsen of Washington, Daniel Lipinski of Illinois, Stephen F. Lynch of Massachusetts, Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Peter J. Visclosky of Indiana.  

In the Senate, 39 of 46 Democrats (including the two independents that caucus with them) signed it. The seven senators who did not join the brief are Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Angus King of Maine, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana and Tom Udall of New Mexico.  

House Republicans are planning to hold a vote  soon on a resolution that would allow the House to file a brief opposing the executive actions. Speaker Paul D. Ryan said last week that Obama's "executive amnesty" is an attack on Congress's Article 1 power under the constitution and that is why the House plans to take the "extraordinary step" of filing a brief on behalf of the institution, which has never been done before.  

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report. Contact McPherson at lindseymcpherson@rollcall.com and follow her on Twitter @lindsemcpherson.

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