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Texas judge refuses to lift block on Obama immigration plan

8 Apr

(Reuters) – A federal judge in Texas has refused to lift a temporary block on a White House immigration plan that would have shielded millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, court documents show.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, a city along the border with Mexico, rejected a U.S. Justice Department request to remove a ban on the plan he issued in February.

Twenty-six U.S. states filed a lawsuit alleging Obama had exceeded his powers with executive orders that would let up to 4.7 million illegal immigrants stay in the country without threat of deportation. Obama’s orders bypassed Congress, which has not been able to agree on immigration reform.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement on Tuesday that the Obama Administration misled the court regarding early implementation of expanded work permits to illegal immigrants.

At issue was a U.S. government filing that said some 100,000 people had been given three-year periods of deferred action before the judge’s injunction.

“Any premature implementation could have serious consequences, inflicting irreparable harm on our state, and this ruling is key in determining the extent to which the federal government did not present the full truth in this case,” Paxton said.

The Justice Department, which could not be immediately reached for comment, requested an emergency stay of Hanen’s decision on Feb. 23. It has also filed a notice of appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, court documents show.

That court on Tuesday rejected a challenge to Obama’s 2012 executive action granting deportation relief to immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, upholding a lower court’s earlier ruling.

The White House did not issue an immediate comment.