WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 2015 - The Justice Department will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to save the Obama administration’s plan for allowing millions of illegal immigrants to stay in the country. 

The administration is hoping the Supreme Court will end a stay on the plan in time for it to go forward before President Obama leaves office. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday turned down the administration’s appeal to lift a stay imposed by a district judge in Texas. 

“We’re confident in the power of the legal arguments,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “That’s why you’ve seen the Department of Justice make such a quick decision to move this on up the line to the Supreme Court.”

Texas and 25 other states sued to stop Obama from going forward with the initiative, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), on the grounds that the administration had failed to comply with the Administrative Procedures Act in setting it up. Also at stake is an expansion of an earlier program for children of illegal immigrants. 

DAPA would provide work permits to illegal immigrants who have been in the country for at least five years and have children. An estimated 4.3 million immigrants would be eligible for DAPA. Farm groups have been concerned that a number of agricultural workers will apply for the DAPA program and leave for other jobs.  

Obama launched the plan after immigration reform efforts stalled in the last Congress. “When you see Congress do next to nothing it means that executive actions need to be considered, even if they would not advance the country as far as common sense congressional action would,” Earnest said. 

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The Democratic presidential candidates criticized the 5th Circuit decision. Hillary Clinton, in a tweet she personally initialed, said, “The 5th Circuit is wrong on immigration. SCOTUS should uphold DACA/DAPA so millions of families can stop living in fear. -H.”

One of the Republican candidates, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called the ruling a “victory for rule of law … against Pres. Obama's illegal & unconstitutional executive amnesty!”