On Jan. 26, 2015, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt joined the lawsuit Texas v. United States of America. The suit, which has been filed by 26 states so far, takes aim at President Barack Obama’s executive action that would, among other things, delay the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants.
Laxalt’s reasoning for filing the suit is that he feels obligated by the Nevada constitution to, in his own words, “take legal action whenever necessary to protect and secure the interest of the state.” This specific suit seeks an injunction to halt the executive action so that Congress may be allowed to act on immigration.
That said, does Obama’s unilateral action actually pose a threat to Nevada’s interest? Is Congress suddenly powerless to act in the face of Obama’s “newfound” executive power? Regardless of your stance on the immigration debate, the answer is a resounding no.
Obama’s executive action expands protection of undocumented parents of legal US citizens and so-called “DREAMers,” children who crossed the border illegally with their parents. While Nevada does have the highest per capita percentage of undocumented citizens of all 50 states, the executive action does not provide amnesty or a path to citizenship, but rather leaves immigrants alone while the country waits for more comprehensive reform.
Additionally, an executive action, even one that changes policy, is distinct from a legally binding executive order and carries little legal weight of its own; it could be easily undone by an act of Congress or by the courts. Laxalt is obviously pursuing the latter course of action, but does he need to?
Again, the answer is no. While every Republican under the sun cried foul at Obama for overstepping his constitutional bounds, they all seemed to conveniently forget that this was occurring as a result of their own inaction. Laxalt’s move to join the lawsuit does little in the way of achieving tangible reform, and is completely unnecessary considering that half of the states in the nation joined the lawsuit before Nevada.
As attorney general, Adam Laxalt is allowed to pursue whatever cases he sees fit and is constitutionally bound to pursue the interests of the state. As such, it seems a dubious decision of him to join the lawsuit when Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, who also agrees that Obama overreached, disagrees with the suit and favors legislative action. On top of that, it seems that the outspoken conservative Laxalt has forgotten that he lives in and represents the legal interests a purple state, not a red one.
In fact, all that this lawsuit will end up doing is proving the president’s point: that the Republicans would rather play politics than actually legislate. The GOP is obviously not a fan of this deportation deferral and would rather see a stronger border, but it seems as though they have forgotten which party actually controls the supreme law-making body in America. If they want a stronger border and don’t want amnesty, the power to make it so is at their fingertips.
Thus, regardless of whether president Obama’s action on immigration was right or wrong, this lawsuit ignores why Obama took action in the first place: Congress, and by extension Republicans who control it, will not take action.
Petty lawsuits and meaningless political theater will not fix America’s immigration woes. Laxalt and his cadre of Obama-haters will not save America with a wave of the litigation wand, not this time. A real solution is in order, not this snake oil remedy that will do nothing but delay progress.
No matter your opinion on the immigration debate, Adam Laxalt has failed to represent the state of Nevada. Write in to Gov. Sandoval, to Sen. Reid and Sen. Heller and to your representative and stand in support of tangible legal change; change initiated not by the president or by state AG’s, but by the legislators whose constitutional duty is to make the laws that govern the land.
The Sagebrush editorial staff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.