The case being led by Texas and filed at the Federal Court in the Southern District of Texas said the executive order announced by Obama last month violated constitutional limits on presidential powers. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican and the Texas governor-elect, said the lawsuit is not asking for monetary damages but is seeking to have the order declared illegal.
The White House has said the executive order falls within presidential powers, and has argued that the ultimate answer is for Congress to pass meaningful immigration reform.
President Barack Obama's plan would let up to 4.7 million of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States stay without threat of deportation, including some 4.4 million who are parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.
"The President is abdicating his responsibility to faithfully enforce laws that were duly enacted by Congress and attempting to rewrite immigration laws, which he has no authority to do," Abbott said.
Many of the states in the coalition are Republican strongholds and include Alabama, Idaho, Mississippi and Utah.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, a Republican, said his state joined the legal effort because "the president has exceeded the balance of power provisions clearly laid out in the U.S. Constitution."
Abbott said that as a border state Texas has sustained millions of dollars in costs related to illegal immigration.
Separately, some conservative Republicans in Congress are hoping to thwart Obama's immigration action by tying it to a must-pass government spending bill, although the Republican leadership wants to avert a government shutdown over the issue.