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POLITICS: PennAve

How John Boehner's decision to sue Obama could affect immigration

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Politics,White House,Congress,Immigration,Barack Obama,John Boehner,PennAve,Susan Crabtree

Speaker John Boehner's planned lawsuit over executive orders could make the politics of immigration reform even more complicated.

With immigration stalled in the House, President Obama is widely expected to use executive orders to change how the U.S. handles undocumented immigrants sometime this fall.

Boehner used his weekly Capitol press briefing to hit Obama on his frequent executive actions, saying they amount to a violation of his oath of office to "faithfully" execute the laws of the country.

“This is about defending the institution in which we serve,” Boehner said. “You know, if you look back over the last 235 years of our history, there's been a movement between the inherent powers of the executive branch versus the inherent powers of the legislative branch.”

Boehner also stressed that the lawsuit was not in any way an attempt to lay the groundwork for impeachment.

Any legal action aimed at undermining the president's ability to issue executive orders would take years to wend itself through the court system so would not serve to immediately blunt a potential executive action on immigration this fall.

But the lawsuit gives Republicans the chance to argue that anything Obama does this fall on immigration is a potential abuse of power and remains in legal limbo.

One House GOP aide said their side hoped the legal challenge would have a "deterrent effect" on future executive actions, including any dealing with changes to the nation's immigration laws.

White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett last week said Republicans still have a window of opportunity this summer to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

But if the summer winds down with no legislative traction on immigration, which looks increasingly likely, Obama will be under pressure from his liberal base ahead of the midterm elections to issue an executive action -- possibly to slow deportations.

Before Americans went to the polls to decide whether to re-elect Obama in 2012, Obama issued an executive action in June of that year to allow thousands of immigrants who come to the United States before the age of 16 to remain in the country and to work legally and obtain driver's licenses and other legal documents.

The humanitarian and legal crisis at the Texas border further complicates any Obama executive action to ease deportation laws. A mass influx of children immigrants from Central America has flooded border-patrol facilities in recent weeks with nearly 90,000 total expected to cross the border into the U.S. by the fall.

Republicans say Obama's 2012 executive action focused on those who arrived in the country as children created the current border crisis in Texas by encouraging more children to come to the country in anticipation of more leniency in U.S. immigration laws.

Before the current border crisis, key minority rights groups, a major Democratic voting bloc, for years have aggressively pushed Obama to stop mass deportations of illegal immigrants, which they say separates families.

But under Obama, deportations at the U.S. border have gone up while the number of deportations are down for illegal immigrants already in the U.S.

Obama has made a priority of deporting people with criminal records and prior immigration violations, while slashing in half deportations of those residing in the U.S. with no run-ins with the law, from 238,000 in 2008 to 133,500 in 2013, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest, reacting to the news of Boehner's planned lawsuit Wednesday afternoon, signaled it would not change Obama's plans in any way.

“This lawsuit is not something that is going to consume the attention of this White House,” he said.

Earnest also predicted that the American public would not welcome the “litigious” Republican strategy of filing a “taxpayer-funded lawsuit against the president for doing his job.”

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