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October 17, 2019

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State Government:

Laxalt signs onto statement opposing Obama’s actions on immigration

Adam Laxalt

Andy Barron / AP

This Jan. 14, 2013, photo shows attorney Adam Laxalt introducing his wife, Jaime, and their daughter, Sophia, at the Republican Men’s Club luncheon at the Atlantis Resort-Reno.

Attorney General-elect Adam Laxalt is joining the charge to condemn President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration.

In one of his first public moves since winning the attorney general race on Nov. 4, Laxalt signed onto a joint statement sponsored by the Republican Attorneys General Association objecting to Obama’s decision to prevent the deportation of an estimated 5 million people. The statement also questions the validity of Obama’s oath to “protect the Constitution.”

Signed by 20 attorneys general and attorneys general-elects, the letter doesn’t outline any course of legal action from RAGA members. But it dovetails with Republican promises to challenge the president’s action in court and buttresses the oft-used insult that the president is a “monarch” and “emperor.”

The U.S. Justice Department released a 33-page memo to substantiate the executive branch’s authority to pen the executive action. The department memo explained that the president has discretion to prosecute criminal infractions that relate to immigration and other federal matters.

But that didn’t stop Republicans from promising legal action.

Greg Abbot, Texas’ Republican attorney general and governor-elect, plans to sue the president. In Oklahoma, Attorney General Scott Pruitt promised a lawsuit.

Govs. Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker, Republicans who are 2016 presidential hopefuls, vowed to take whatever actions they could.

Charles Kuck, former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said Republicans have no grounds to file a lawsuit.

There is no law that says the executive branch can’t use discretion in its enforcement of laws, he said.

“This is just political grandstanding for people who will be in the upcoming GOP primary,” he said. “And I say that as a Republican.”

Laxalt hasn’t vowed to take legal action. He sent out an email telling supporters he signed the letter and wants a solution from Congress.

“Our nation’s immigration policy should be determined with careful debate in our Congress, not through executive order from our President, alone,” Laxalt wrote in an email to supporters.

Laxalt plans to take no immediate legal action against the president once he takes office in January, said Laxalt adviser Robert Uithoven.

Obama followed his announcement by holding a rally last week in Las Vegas, a fitting place to toast the historic decision. The Hispanic constituency has growing influence in the state’s politics and is viewed as one of the most important bloc of voters who will decide the fate of the 2016 elections in Nevada.

Astrid Silva, an organizer with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, said the actions by Republicans are “out of touch” with what’s happening on the ground in Nevada.

She praised Nevada’s recent moves that allow employed, undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses. She also commended state lawmakers for shooting down bills that would have created strict immigration laws similar to ones enacted in Arizona.

She did agree with Laxalt, though, saying that Democrats, Republicans and everyone within the nation’s borders are frustrated with congressional inaction.

“The entire country is ready for a law that passes Congress,” she said.

The president’s Las Vegas trip was not just a landmark moment for Nevada. The president singled out Silva in his Las Vegas speech.

"Are we a nation that kicks out a striving, hopeful immigrant like Astrid?" Obama asked. "Or are we a nation that finds a way to welcome her in?"

Silva crossed the border when she was 4 years old. She doesn’t have a legal residency status but has a two-year work permit through the Deferred Action program for Childhood Arrivals program.

She grew up with issues all undocumented immigrants face. She couldn’t get a drivers license, for instance, and couldn’t go back to Mexico for her grandmother’s funeral.

But like many immigrants, she made good use of her time in the country. She graduated from UNLV and became employed with the Progressive Leadership Alliance.

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