WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2015 – The White House says the Justice Department will appeal a federal judge’s ruling that temporarily blocked President Obama’s executive action on immigration.
The temporary injunction was issued on Monday by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in South Texas. His order gives a coalition of 26 states time to pursue a lawsuit that aims to permanently stop Obama’s orders that could spare from deportation as many as 5 million people who are in the U.S. illegally.
In a memo accompanying his order, Hanen wrote that the states would "suffer irreparable harm in this case" without a temporary injunction. "The genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle," he wrote, agreeing with the plaintiffs that legalizing the presence of millions of people would be "virtually irreversible."
The White House defended the executive orders issued in November as within the president's legal authority, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress have said federal officials can set priorities in enforcing immigration laws.
"The district court's decision wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect and the Department of Justice has indicated that it will appeal that decision," the statement said.
One of Obama’s orders expands a program that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. This was due to take effect Wednesday. DHS will suspend that application process while the court case is pending, White House officials say. The execution action also provided protection against deportation to parents of U.S. citizens who have been in the country for a number of years. This was expected to begin later this year.
In a statement released late Monday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the decision a "victory for the rule of law in America."
In the lawsuit, the coalition of mostly conservative states in the South and Midwest contends 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.
Judge Hanen has been on the federal court since 2002 after being nominated by President George W. Bush.
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