Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt told a congressional committee on Wednesday that President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration was an unconstitutional federal overreach.
Laxalt, a Republican, testified before the House Judiciary Committee in Washington against the action by Obama that aimed to spare nearly 5 million immigrants from deportation.
Nevada has joined 25 other states in a lawsuit that seeks to block the president’s order on constitutional grounds.
“Nevada joined this lawsuit because upholding our constitutional process is more significant than any policy objective that any political party may be pushing at a particular time,” he said, reading from prepared testimony.
Three professors from law schools across the country also testified at the hearing.
Laxalt told the committee that a majority of states believe the issue is the responsibility of Congress. Joining the lawsuit wasn’t a political maneuver but instead a reaction to federal overreach, he said, adding that it was his job as the state’s top law enforcement officer to join the case.
“This suit is not about scoring political points on a policy disagreement between Democrats and Republicans,” he said.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas issued a temporary halt on the president’s order last week. The lawsuit is currently being reviewed by a federal appeals court in New Orleans.
An estimated 7.6 percent of Nevadans are living in the country illegally, the largest share of any state, according to the Pew Research Center.
Laxalt’s decision to join the lawsuit met sharp criticism from Democrats and immigration activists statewide.
Las Vegas immigration activist Astrid Silva, who is attending a televised Florida town hall with the president on Wednesday, said she’s disappointed in Laxalt for including Nevada in the suit, which she said negatively affects a large number of immigrants in the state, including her father.
Laxalt “is the poster child for something that is scaring our community, something that is making people like my dad not know what’s going to happen to them in the next few months,” she said.