Attorney General Adam Laxalt: Executive orders can't trump the Constitution

A June 1 opinion piece on RGJ.com claims that by joining a majority of the states in seeking to uphold the balance of power in the federal government, I sent a message that I somehow favored separating immigrant families in Nevada. This assertion could not be further from the truth, and confuses the real issue – namely, the president's executive order on immigration was unlawful.

My choice to join this lawsuit against the president's unauthorized unilateral action on immigration was rooted in my belief in the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law. This lawsuit meant to send one, and only one, message: Nevada will go to great lengths to support our constitutional system and protect the rule of law. As a former military officer and as Nevada's attorney general, I swore an oath to uphold and defend our Constitution. The test of that oath is standing by the Constitution whether it's popular or not.

I too am a descendant of immigrants, and the third generation of Nevadans in my family to be born at Saint Mary's Hospital in Reno. My family was drawn to this state because it represents the American dream – where the son of an immigrant sheepherder grew up to be Nevada's governor and a U.S. senator, as well as the "first friend" of President Ronald Reagan. Indeed, I believe the great strength of our country stems from being a nation of immigrants and our commitment to the pillars of the Constitution will continue to draw immigrants to our borders for generations to come. The rule of law is what has always made our nation great.

To ensure that immigrant families are not unnecessarily separated, our nation needs real and lasting immigration reform. But that reform must come from the U.S. Congress, the branch of government that the Constitution grants power to enact laws. Anything less is a false hope. If a president can simply rewrite our immigration laws at will, then what confidence can immigrants have that this president's immigration law will last into the next administration? Our constitutional order was designed to prevent this sort of shortsightedness and political gamesmanship.

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