Tennessee is joining a lawsuit attacking President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, coming two weeks after the president made a stop in Nashville to promote the action.
Using the language found in the suit, originally filed by the attorney general’s office in Texas, AG Herbert Slatery says it’s not about immigration but about what he sees as the president overstepping his powers, and he thinks a federal judge needs to review it.
Tennessee is the 25th state to join the suit.
In November, the president announced that he was extending temporary reprieve to up to 4 million people who are in the country illegally.
“The state cannot sit on the sidelines of this case, when unlawful directives of this magnitude grant lawful presence and other rights like work permits to such a large number,” Slatery said in a statement.
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney applauded the decision to join the litigation, saying Obama’s executive action showed that “states are becoming a ward of the federal government.”
Immigration rights advocates, meanwhile, called the suit a step backward for immigration in the state.
“Instead of finding ways to harness the economic potential of immigrants, who through executive action will be able to work legally and will add millions of dollars to our state economy, our attorney general has joined the ranks of anti-immigrant states,” said Stephanie Teatro of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition.
In Tennessee, around 40,000 new residents could be eligible for temporary residency under the executive action, according to Pew Research.
Slatery is the state’s first Republican attorney general in almost 150 years. He was sworn in two months ago.
GOP lawmakers had been upset that the former Democratic attorney general Bob Cooper refused to join a lawsuit challenging Obamacare, which led to Senate Speaker Ramsey to stage a campaign against sitting state Supreme Court justices, who select the state’s top attorney.
After Tennessee’s Supreme Court justices fought off an infusion of money from outside groups seeking to unseat them, the court passed over Cooper and appointed Slatery to an eight-year term as attorney general.