NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has repeatedly refused to outline his positions on the nation's immigration system, quietly signed onto an amicus brief opposing President Obama's executive action on immigration.
The brief filed Monday by New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana and South Dakota urges an appeals court to uphold a preliminary injunction blocking action that could spare millions of people who are in the U.S. illegally from deportation.
The states involved say moving forward with the programs would cause them "irreparable injuries."
"The question presented is whether the President can unilaterally legalize the presence of millions of people and unilaterally give them myriad legal benefits, including work permits, Medicare, Social Security and tax credits," they wrote.
"Washington's attempt to turn this into a policy debate only underscores the dearth of legal arguments to support Defendants' unilateral efforts to hand out government benefits in violation of federal law," the brief read.
Christie, who is weighing a run for president, has been generally critical of President Barack Obama's immigration policies, but has refused to answer questions about how he would approach the issue. His office did not publicize the brief. A spokesman confirmed New Jersey had signed on, but declined to comment Wednesday.
Twenty-six states, led by Texas, joined to challenge Obama's November 2014 actions as unconstitutional, arguing the policies would force them to invest more in law enforcement, health care and education.
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who has pushed for comprehensive immigration reform, defended the legality of Obama's actions and pointed to the residents who would benefit from them.
"Let's not forget that an estimated 204,000 people in New Jersey will be able to come out of the shadows and contribute to the community and the economy thanks to the President's executive actions," he said in a statement. "These are moms and dads — good people, hard-working people — who will register with the government, pass a background check, get a work permit, pay taxes and no longer fear deportation."
The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice also criticized the state's move, saying, "Governor Christie's support of this misguided lawsuit is further proof his political aspirations trump the needs and will of the people of New Jersey."