LePage hails Texas judge’s decision to block Obama’s immigration agenda

Gov. Paul LePage, pictured here recently in Portland. BDN file photo by Troy R. Bennett.

Gov. Paul LePage, pictured here recently in Portland. BDN file photo by Troy R. Bennett.

A U.S. District Court judge in Texas on Monday blocked President Barack Obama’s plan to protect about 4.7 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, saying the president’s use of executive orders to enact the policy had exceeded his authority and wrongly bypassed Congress.

The lawsuit was heard in Texas, the state leading the charge to thwart Obama’s immigration agenda, but many states were listed as plaintiffs in the suit, as were some governors — including Maine Gov. Paul LePage.

He’s representing himself in the lawsuit — the state of Maine is not a party — and LePage said Tuesday that his involvement in the case has been minimal.

While he may not be sitting in court in Texas, his participation in the suit is symbolic and politically meaningful. It establishes LePage as one of many Republicans nationally who oppose the president’s aggressive use of executive authority to craft immigration policy.

Obama’s plan would temporarily protect roughly 4.4 million undocumented immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, and would protect another roughly 270,000 people through an expansion of a program that protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as young children.

LePage on Tuesday hailed the federal judge’s decision, saying that Obama’s plan would encourage more illegal immigration by sending a signal to would-be border crossers that once they get here, they can stay.

“The minute you say ‘we will protect undocumented [immigrants],’ you’ve opened the floodgates,” LePage said. “He [Obama] said that if you get here, we’ll take care of you. Is that going to slow down the traffic? That’s my point.”

The president has argued that a core pillar of his plan is not only the deferred deportation, but increased border security.

The governor also said that encouraging more illegal immigration would put Americans at risk, repeating a questionable claim that undocumented immigrants spread diseases.

“My biggest issue is medical assessments. We don’t know how many cases of HIV, tuberculosis, Hepatitis C … are coming across the border,” he said Tuesday.

Obama has said he’ll appeal the federal court decision.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.