If President Barack Obama could step beyond the constitutional powers of his office by issuing an executive order to change the nation's immigration system, there was no limit to what else he could do, Texas Gov.-elect Greg Abbott told Fox News' "America's Newsroom."
Abbott, currently attorney general of Texas, has joined with 16 states to file a lawsuit over Obama's executive immigration order. Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio has also filed a lawsuit, alleging Obama's order overstepped his executive powers.
"If a president can get away with extending his powers to do things like this, there could be no constitutional limitation on what the president could do. That's why this lawsuit is so incredibly important," Abbott, a Republican, said Thursday.
Abbott said the lawsuit could be the "most serious" of the 31 cases he's brought against the Obama administration, because it represented "the most serious abdication of presidential authority." He said he would use Obama's own words as testimony in making his case.
"One person whose testimony we will put on trial are the comments of the president himself, who said 20 times he did not have the discretion to delay prosecution or deportation of the people who fall under the blanket of this executive order," he said.
Abbott said there were "several flaws" with Obama's argument that he had "prosecutorial discretion" as legal justification for the executive order.
"Prosecutorial discretion is to be made on a case-by-case basis. That's not what is being done here. There is a blanket prosecutorial discretion being applied to four million people," Abbott said.
An additional legal issue was that benefits for illegal immigrants granted through the order, including "work permits, Social Security, and Medicare," were "foreign to the concept of prosecutorial discretion," he said.
Abbott said he expected to "confer and talk about this lawsuit" when he and other newly elected governors go to the White House for a meeting with Obama on Friday.
"I have no doubt that it will come up," he said. "We need to work with the president, with the administration, with Congress, to insure they get the border problem fixed."
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