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Senate Republicans File Immigration Brief

WASHINGTON (CN) - Two weeks before the case goes before the Supreme Court, 43 Senate Republicans have filed an amicus brief in support of a group of states challenging the Obama administration's executive actions on immigration.

The brief, filed Monday, supports 27 states, governors and attorney generals who are challenging President Barack Obama's November 2014 executive action on immigration known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, or DAPA.

The case, United States v. Texas, reached the Supreme Court after the Fifth Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction against the DAPA program.

DAPA, as well as the similar Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, allows certain immigrants who arrived illegally in the United States on or before Jan. 1, 2010, to apply for deferred action.

This would allow children who came to the United States when they were under 16 and parents of permanent resident children to stay in the country and look for work.

But in their brief, Senate Republicans joined the states in calling the program a violation of the separation of powers and existing immigration laws.

"The executive has a constitutional duty to faithfully execute the immigration laws and, in so doing, may implement rules for the administration of those laws," the brief reads. "Yet Congress has never given the executive unchecked discretion to rewrite federal immigration policy or to fashion its own immigration code."

The brief goes on to accuse the president of stepping past Congress in adopting DAPA after unsuccessfully trying to convince lawmakers to take up immigration legislation that would grant legal status to those in the country illegally.

"In response, just two weeks after American voters elected a majority of Republicans in both the House and the Senate in the November 2014 election, the president abandoned his effort to persuade the voters' elected representatives of the wisdom of his position, and instead chose to implement his policy preferences by the extra-constitutional assertion of a unilateral executive power," the senators claim.

The senators argue Obama's actions have "no limiting principle," and would allow the president to wield sweeping power on immigration simply by claiming prosecutorial discretion.

"For decades, Congress has acted with great care to prescribe the categories of foreign nationals who may enter this country, who may remain, who among them may be allowed to obtain employment and who may enjoy benefits under federal law," the senators argue. "To elevate the executive's policy preferences above those encoded in federal law would eviscerate the comprehensive scheme that Congress has enacted, and disrupt the balance of powers between the political branches."

Nearly 80 percent of Republicans in the Senate joined the brief, lead by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Every member of Republican leadership in the Senate, as well as current and former presidential candidates Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio also signed onto the brief.

"Whether we're Republicans or Democrats, this kind of partisan overreach should worry all of us - no matter who is in the White House," McConnell said on the Senate floor Monday. "Because not only is the President's blatant refusal to follow the law an extraordinary power grab, it's a direct challenge to Congress' constitutional authority - and a direct attack on our constitutional order."

Of the 11 Republicans who did not join the brief, six are up for reelection and four others are in their first term in office. Maine Sen. Susan Collin also did not join the brief and is considered one of the most moderate Republicans in the Senate, ranking to the left of some Democrats on legislative tracking website GovTrack's ideology score.

The case is scheduled to be argued before the Supreme Court on April 18.

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