Texas Gov.-elect Greg Abbott announced that Texas is leading a 17-state coalition suing the Obama administration over the president's executive actions on immigration.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Texas on Wednesday, and names the heads of the top immigration enforcement agencies as defendants.

Abbott said fixing or improvements of the immigration system should be fixed by Congress, not by "presidential fiat."

He said President Obama's recently announced executive actions "directly violate the fundamental promise to the American people" by running afoul of the Constitution.

"The ability of the president to dispense with laws was specifically considered and unanimously rejected at the Constitutional Convention," he said.

He said the lawsuit asks the court to require Obama to go through Congress before enforcing laws, "rather than making them up himself."

A White House official, however, defended the actions as perfectly within the president's authority.

The announcement opens a new front in the rolling debate across the country over the immigration actions.

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

Abbott argued that Obama's action "tramples" portions of the U.S. Constitution.

The federal lawsuit involves the following states: Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.