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Feds Fire Back at Red States on Immigration

(CN) - The Republican-led states suing President Barack Obama over his executive order not to deport certain undocumented immigrants lack standing because they "themselves are not subject" to the order, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

Twenty red states, four Republican governors and Michigan's attorney general Bill Schuette, sued the Obama administration's immigration officials in early December.

With Texas leading the charge, the states are challenging Obama's decision to not deport, for the remainder of his term, "certain low-priority aliens: those present in the United States since before 2010 and who either entered as children or are the parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents," according to a Justice Department filing in the case.

Texas claims Obama's order gives a free pass to around 4 million undocumented immigrants.

Obama announced the policy directive Nov. 20 during a nationally televised speech.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen is set to hold a hearing in Brownsville, Texas, on the motion by the plaintiffs for a preliminary injunction.

Texas argues in the lawsuit that Obama's "unilateral suspension of the nation's immigration laws is unlawful" under the U.S. Constitution.

The feds responded on Christmas Eve Day with a 74-page opposing brief.

Justice Department attorney Kyle Freeny says in the brief that the plaintiffs "seek to overturn and effectively commandeer federal enforcement prerogatives."

"This effort cannot be reconciled with the Executive's well-recognized discretionary authority under the immigration laws to prioritize enforcement resources, including through grants of deferred action, or with the practical impossibility and humanitarian cost of removing every such alien regardless of consequence," Freeny wrote.

"In any event, plaintiffs' case fails at the threshold, because plaintiffs lack standing."

"Multiple layers of speculation" support the plaintiffs' assertion that Obama's order will harm them, Freeny added, urging Hanan to deny the motion for an injunction.

The feds filed the document a day after U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington, D.C., denied Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's motion for an injunction against Obama's order.

"The plaintiff's case raises important questions regarding the impact of illegal

immigration on this nation, but the questions amount to generalized grievances which are not proper for the judiciary to address," Howell wrote.

The judge added that "the plaintiff lacks standing to bring this challenge to the constitutionality and legality of the immigration policies at issue."

Freeny asked Hanen to follow Howell's lead and dismiss the Republican states' lawsuit. White House Press Secretary Eric Schultz issued an "I told you so" statement on the heels of Howell's order.

"Judge Howell's decision today confirms what the Department of Justice and scholars throughout the country have been saying all along: the president's executive actions on immigration are lawful," Schultz wrote.

"The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that federal officials can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws," Schultz added.

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