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Why did Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi Sign the Flawed Texas Immigration Brief?

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On March 28, 2016, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi signed on to a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of United States v. Texas. The case, brought by GOP Governors and Attorneys General, led by Texas, challenges the immigration executive actions President Obama announced in 2014.

Bondi joined Florida to the lawsuit despite the billions of dollars that would accrue to the economy of the state and 279,000 U.S citizen children and other family members living in a household with someone who would benefit from DAPA. This was a craven political move aimed at placating the anti-immigrant wing of the Republican base.

But, Bondi also put her own reputation at risk. The GOP brief, authored by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is currently facing multiple indictments for felony securities fraud, is riddled with problems. It’s clear that politics of the case were so central to their mission, that Paxton and Bondi are flat out wrong on immigration law. And it’s particularly concerning given Bondi’s endorsement of Donald Trump, who has made immigrant-bashing a key element of his presidential campaign.

The reply brief filed by the U.S. government notes repeatedly that Paxton and Bondi got the law wrong, at one point noting, “Respondents [meaning Paxton, Bondi and other signatories to the brief] are fundamentally wrong to claim that the Guidance confers on aliens whose presence Congress has deemed unlawful the right to remain lawfully in the United States.” That’s unequivocal language not often found in Supreme Court briefs. It’s sad that Attorney General  Bondi would join the likes of Ken Paxton in making a misleading argument to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Immigration attorney David Leopold noted, “The Obama administration used its reply brief to eviscerate several of the claims made by the Attorney General of Texas on behalf of the other GOP Governors and Attorneys General. What comes across is that the Texas Attorney General does not fully understand immigration law. And, that would comport the reality that this case was never about immigration law, but is really a political assault under the guise of a lawsuit.”

Juan Escalante, Director of Florida’s Voice, blasted Bondi, “It’s bad enough that Pam Bondi put politics over the residents of our state. But, she sidled up to one of the most corrupt elected officials in the country, Ken Paxton. Now, she’s not only damaging the reputation of Florida, she’s undermining the office of the Attorney General. It’s embarrassing for Pam Bondi to express interest in helping to fix our nation’s immigration system, while having no understanding of immigration law. You have to wonder if she even read the Texas brief before she signed it, or if she even considered the economic benefits of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. It’s even worse when that person is Florida’s top lawyer.”