Federal Judge Stalls Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration

Juan A. Lozano, ABC News, February 17, 2015

The White House promised an appeal Tuesday after a federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration and gave a coalition of 26 states time to pursue a lawsuit aiming to permanently stop the orders.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s decision late Monday puts on hold Obama’s orders that could spare from deportation as many as 5 million people who are in the U.S. illegally. In response, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it would halt preparations for a program to protect parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents until further notice.

In a memorandum accompanying his order, Hanen said the lawsuit should go forward and that the states would “suffer irreparable harm in this case” without a preliminary injunction.

“The genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle,” he wrote, adding that he agreed that legalizing the presence of millions of people is a “virtually irreversible” action.

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The White House said the U.S. Department of Justice will file an appeal, which will be heard by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department was reviewing the ruling and was confident the matter would ultimately be taken up by a higher court, possibly the U.S. Supreme Court.

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The coalition of states, led by Texas and made up of mostly conservative states in the South and Midwest, argues that Obama has violated the “Take Care Clause” of the U.S. Constitution, which they say limits the scope of presidential power, and that his executive actions would be difficult to undo once immigrants started to apply for deferred action. They also say Obama’s order would force increased investment in law enforcement, health care and education.

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the decision a “victory for the rule of law in America” in a statement late Monday. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who led the state into the lawsuit when he was the state’s attorney general, said Hanen’s decision “rightly stops the President’s overreach in its tracks.”

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Among those supporting Obama’s executive order is a group of 12 mostly liberal states, including Washington and California, as well as the District of Columbia. They filed a motion with Hanen in support of Obama, arguing the directives will substantially benefit states and will further the public interest.

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