WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Texas is leading a group of 17 states -- all but two with Republican governors -- that are suing to block President Barack Obama's executive overhaul of U.S. immigration and deportation rules. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen have joined the lawsuit.
Texas' incoming governor, Greg Abbott, announced the effort to have courts block Obama from implementing the actions he announced last month during a Wednesday afternoon, December 3rd news conference.
"The constitution prescribes immigration policy be fixed by Congress -- not by presidential fiat," said Abbott, the Texas attorney general who won the governor's race in November and has since become the highest-profile GOP critic of Obama's immigration policies.
He said Obama's decision to stop deportations for undocumented immigrants who are the parents of U.S. citizens -- the centerpiece of the executive action -- is "a decision to openly tolerate" violations of the U.S. law.
"Texas is uniquely qualified to challenge the president's executive order," Abbott said. He pointed to Obama's 2012 order deferring the deportation of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and had lived in the country for years, and said Texas has seen an influx of immigrants since then.
"Basically, we are asking for the court to require the president to go through the prescribed constitutional process of enforcing laws passed by Congress rather than making them up himself," Abbott said.
Abbott said the states joining Texas in the lawsuit are Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
He said other states could join the lawsuit.
Governor Scott Walker released the following statement Wednesday:
"The immigration system is broken, but this is an issue that should be addressed through collaborative federal action, not unilateral action by the President. President Obama’s actions represent a violation of his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws and exceed the limits of his administrative powers.
Because of our shared concerns, at my direction, Wisconsin joined with Governors and Attorneys General from 17other states in a lawsuit seeking to block the President’s unilateral action to change the law outside of the legislative process. To be clear, this lawsuit is not about immigration. It is about the rule of law and the legality of President Obama’s actions."
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen issued this statement:
“It is clear that the President has exceeded his authority and that this important matter should be reviewed by the courts."