OLYMPIA — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Tuesday continued to be the lead spokesman for states seeking to uphold President Barack Obama’s immigration orders, as his office filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that undocumented immigrants hold low-skilled farm jobs that would otherwise go unfilled.
“Immigrant workers in low-skilled jobs benefit the economy by lowering the cost of living, with negligible impacts on low-skill native workers,” according to the brief.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments April 18 on whether Obama acted lawfully in 2014 when he suspended the deportation of some 4.4 million illegal immigrants.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued an injunction blocking the president’s orders.
While Texas has taken the lead among 25 states challenging the immigration orders, Washington has supplied the written arguments for the 16 states and the District of Columbia that are backing the president.
Washington’s filing Tuesday reprises arguments the state has made in earlier briefs, though the state had not previously singled-out agricultural workers.
Obama’s immigration orders will expand the pool of workers at the “upper and lower ends of the scale of worker skill level,” according to the brief.
“At the (lower) end of the scale, immigrants play a crucial role in filling the demand for low-skilled work in a range of fields, especially in agricultural positions that would otherwise go unfilled,” according to the brief.
The brief also argues that legalizing the undocumented immigrants, including an estimated 105,000 in Washington, will keep families together and create new taxpayers.
“Each day that these reforms are delayed harms Washingtonians who seek to emerge from the shadows and live and work legally to support their families,” Ferguson said in a written statement issued Wednesday.
Ferguson’s brief accused Texas and other states of trying to “achieve a political goal that they could not achieve through democratic means.”
In its written arguments, the Texas Attorney General’s Office claims that Obama has failed to faithfully execute the law.
“The executive claims the power to ignore the statues and unilaterally deem lawful the presence of any unauthorized alien it chooses not to remove,” according to a brief Texas filed with the Supreme Court.
Texas claims that it was directly harmed by the president’s directives because it will have to bear the cost of issuing driver’s licenses to as many as 500,000 newly legalized residents. The state subsidy is more than $100 per license, according to court records.
Ferguson argues that states are still free to deny driver’s licenses to whomever they wish.
If Obama’s immigration orders are blocked, millions of people will be prevented from “receiving the substantial economic, social welfare and public safety benefits that will flow” from the president’s actions, according to Ferguson’s brief.
California and Oregon are among the states supporting Obama’s actions.
Idaho is among the states seeking to block the president’s immigration programs.
One program would allow illegal immigrants with children who have legal status to apply for lawful standing. The other would offer legal standing to children 16 and younger who entered the country illegally.