S.C. Sens. Graham, Scott call on Supreme Court to block Obama immigration orders

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves from his vehicle during a tour of the World Trade International Bridge along the U.S.-Mexico border in Laredo, Texas, on July 23.

WASHINGTON — Both of South Carolina’s U.S. senators have signed on to a legal document urging the Supreme Court to bar implementation of President Barack Obama’s 2014 immigration executive orders.

Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott are among the 43 Senate Republicans who affixed their signatures to the amicus brief, an effort spearheaded by U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Graham, Scott and their colleagues contend that Obama went beyond his authority to extend legal status to, and defer deportation of certain undocumented immigrants and their families. They say he circumvented Congress by acting unilaterally to put the new policies in place.

Obama counters he was within his right, especially given Congress’s inability to pass its own comprehensive bill to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws.

While the lower courts have prevented the executive orders from going into effect, the Supreme Court will rule later this summer on the matter once and for all.

Co-signers of the amicus brief include some of Congress’s staunchest opponents of expanding legal immigration — U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., for instance, who endorsed GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump in part due to his campaign promise to restrict the flow of immigrants into the country by building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Another Republican presidential hopeful and vocal critic of what he calls Obama’s “amnesty” initiative, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, also signed the brief.

But Graham, who was one of the negotiators on the Senate-passed bipartisan immigration overhaul bill in 2013, has made it clear he thinks his party should embrace a more generous immigration policy than that endorsed by Sessions, Trump, Cruz and others. He justifies his opposition to Obama’s executive orders as being born out of concern for constitutional checks and balances.

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“There is little doubt the (White House) adopted the (executive order) as part of an explicit effort to circumvent the legislative process,” reads one portion of the amicus brief, included in the press release from Graham’s office announcing his participation.

Scott signed the brief on similar ideological grounds, according to a statement on his website: “The brief demonstrates that the Administration’s actions not only violate current law but are an extraordinary and unprecedented power grab by the President.”

Emma Dumain is The Post and Courier’s Washington correspondent.