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Why did Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine Sign the Flawed Texas Immigration Brief?

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On March 28, 2016, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine 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 President Obama’s immigration executive actions.

DeWine joined Ohio to the lawsuit despite the fact that the policies would add millions of dollars to our state and local tax revenues, and benefit tens of thousands of Ohio families with U.S. citizen children.  Instead, he signed our state onto this lawsuit as part of a partisan Republican strategy ahead of the 2016 elections.

But, DeWine also put his 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 mistakes. It’s clear that politics of the case were so central to their mission, that Paxton and DeWine didn’t take care to ensure they had the law on their side.  This is particularly concerning in the case of Mike DeWine, who as a U.S. Senator showed leadership and compassion when it came to immigrants.

The reply brief filed by the U.S. government notes repeatedly that Paxton and DeWine got the law wrong, at one point noting, “Respondents [meaning Paxton, DeWine 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 DeWine, himself a former prosecutor, would join the likes of Ken Paxton in making a misleading argument to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cleveland-based 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.”

Lynn Tramonte, Director of Ohio’s Voice, blasted DeWine, “It’s bad enough that Mike DeWine put politics over the residents of our state. But, he sidled up to one of the most corrupt elected officials in the country, Ken Paxton, filing specious briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court that severely misstate the law. DeWine is not only damaging the reputation of Ohio, he’s undermining the office of the Attorney General. He used to be a different type of Republican on immigration, but now he’s just a regular partisan, supporting a lawsuit against ordinary Ohio families.”