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Arizona, Florida and Ohio join multi-state lawsuit over President Obama's immigration order

Nov. 21, 2014: President Barack Obama delivers remarks on his executive action on immigration at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas.

Nov. 21, 2014: President Barack Obama delivers remarks on his executive action on immigration at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas.  (AP/File)

AUSTIN, Texas -- Three more states have joined a Texas-led multistate coalition suing over the Obama administration’s recently announced executive actions on immigration.

The addition of Arizona, Florida and Ohio brings to 20 the number of states fighting the order in a federal district court in Brownsville.

Many top Republicans have denounced the president’s unilateral move designed to spare as many as 5 million people living illegally in the United States from deportation.

But Texas Gov.-elect Greg Abbott took it a step further with filing a lawsuit in federal court in the Southern District of Texas.

Most of the 20 states participating in the lawsuit are in the South and Midwest, but Abbott argues that Texas could be uniquely hurt by the executive orders because of its large border.

Announced Nov. 20, Obama's order extends protection from deportation and the right to work to an estimated 4.1 million parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who have lived in the country for at least five years and to hundreds of thousands more young people.

White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine repeated the administration's response to other criticisms to Obama's executive order: The president is not out of legal bounds. "The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that federal officials can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws," she said.

Past U.S. Supreme Court decisions have granted immigration officials "broad discretion" on deportation matters, and dozens of legal scholars have already written in support of Obama's executive actions on the issue.

Republican presidents, including Ronald Reagan, issued executive orders pertaining to immigration, but Abbott said those were in response to actions by Congress and maintained that high-court precedent would show Obama is abusing his power.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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