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Legal fight on immigration continues

3 Mar

The states suing the U.S. government over President Barack Obama’s November 2014 executive action on immigration filed a motion asking a federal judge not to lift a stay on the changes.

“Defendants cannot show anything close to looming irreparable harm,” said the motion filed by the 26-state coalition, led by Texas. “It is not in the public interest to allow Defendants to effect a breathtaking expansion of executive power, all before the courts have had a full opportunity to consider its legality.”

The Obama administration has argued that waiting to begin implementing the executive action until its constitutionality is ultimately resolved will severely hamper the functioning of the Department of Homeland Security.

On Feb. 16, District Judge Andrew Hanen, a George W. Bush appointee for the Southern District of Texas, placed an injunction on the executive action, which is intended to give de facto legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants. Hanen said it was necessary because once implementation of elements of the new policy began, they would be harder to undo if the action were ultimately deemed unconstitutional.

One week later, the Justice Department asked Hanen to lift the injunction while it appeals the decision to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana. The DOJ argued that the executive action is necessary for DHS to “effectively protect national security.”

The states argued that the court’s order will not impair the secretary of Homeland Security from “marshal[ing] his assets or deploy[ing] the resources of the DHS” as he sees fit.

“The actual effect of the preliminary injunction is that the President may not unilaterally confer new legal status, work authorizations, and other benefits on millions of otherwise removable aliens.”

The initial changes ordered by the Obama administration were set to begin on Feb. 18. They have since been delayed pending the resolution of this case in court.