AJC- Two Republican Georgia congressmen have sided with the 24 states suing to block President Barack Obama’s plan for shielding up to 5 million immigrants from deportation.

U.S. Reps. Tom Price of Roswell and Rob Woodall of Lawrenceville are among 68 U.S. House and Senate members who have added their names to recent court filings supporting the states’ lawsuit. Georgia is among the states suing.

The American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative law firm based in Washington, has filed a brief on behalf of the federal lawmakers in the U.S. District Court in Brownsville, Texas. The brief says U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen, a George W. Bush nominee, should halt the president’s executive actions because they are unconstitutional.

U.S. Rep. Tom Price, of Roswell, lost a vote among his colleagues to become Republican Conference Chair, which is the the No. 4-ranking post.

Obama’s actions, the brief says, defy “Congress’ exclusive authority over immigration with the intention, as President Obama has admitted, of setting new policy and creating new law.”

Meanwhile, a group of civil and immigrant rights groups has filed court papers opposing the state’s lawsuit. Among them are United We Dream and the National Immigration Law Center. Their court filing says Obama’s plan “promises to have significant and widespread benefits to the U.S. economy, raising wages, increasing tax revenue, and creating new jobs.”

As immigration legislation remained stalled in Congress in November, Obama announced his administration would act unilaterally and suspend the threat of deportation for millions of immigrants living illegally in the U.S. A key part of his plan would provide three-year deportation deferrals and work permits to people who don’t have legal status in the U.S. but do have children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. His administration is also expanding a program providing temporary reprieves from deportation for immigrants who were illegally brought here as children.

Price issued a statement last month supporting the states’ lawsuit.

“We have an obligation to protect and defend the rule of law enshrined in our Constitution and with it the voices of the American people we represent,” he said. “By stepping forward, these states are providing crucial leadership and support at this critical time.”

Woodall issued a prepared statement Monday.

“Last November, President Obama decided to bypass the Constitution and the American people when he acted unilaterally to change our nation’s immigration laws,” he said. “Irrespective of party, policy or issue, this kind of unconstitutional executive overreach is damaging to our republic.”

The White House has defended the president’s actions, pointing to several letters that legal scholars wrote in support of Obama’s legal authority in this area.

“The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that federal officials can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws, and we are confident that the president’s executive actions are well within his legal authorities,” White House spokeswoman Katherine Vargas said in an email last month.

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