Federal judge Andrew Hanen from the Southern District of Texas has issued a temporary injunction halting the United States from implementing President Obama's executive actions on immigration that would shield more than 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.
The injunction states the court found that at least one plaintiff had satisfied all elements to maintain a lawsuit and be granted the temporary order.
The order specifically says that the administration is enjoined from implementing Obama's new actions, which would protect parents of U.S. citizens, along with the expansion to the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Hanen acknowledged in his order that the 5th Circuit or Supreme Court could issue a contrary order on the injunction. BuzzFeed News asked the Justice Department for comment on Monday night's development.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott took to Twitter to make the announcement.
The lawsuit, filed by 26 states, attempted to block implementation of Obama's executive actions on immigration.
In their 30-page complaint, the states argued they will suffer harm as a result of the president's executive actions, which are estimated to offer temporary deportation protections and work permits to 5 million of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
Less than half — about 2.3 million — of those who could potentially benefit live in the states that have joined in the lawsuit, according to an analysis from the Pew Research Center.
The lawsuit alleges that Obama violated the "Take Care Clause" of the U.S. Constitution, which they said limits the president's power.
"And ensures that he will faithfully execute Congress' laws," the complaint said. "Not rewrite them under the guise of executive 'discretion.'"
The complaint said the actions will lead to an increase in human trafficking and new wave of undocumented immigration. The states also said they would be forced to spend money on law enforcement, health care, and education for those protected.
DACA, announced in June 2012, protects undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before the age of 16 and resided in the country since 2010 from deportation for three years. The program, expanded in 2014 to affect more people, also affords them a work permit.
The temporary injunction only affected the expanded DACA program and DAPA.
Immigrants were set to begin applying for the expanded temporary reprieve on Feb. 18.
In November, Obama rolled out a second program that extended protection to parents of lawful permanent residents. The application process wasn't set to start until mid- to late May.
Karen Tumlin, managing attorney for the National Immigration Law Center, said that the injunction was a very bad first chapter in what is going to be a long novel.
"But it's ultimately a novel that is going to end with a happy ending," Tumlin said. "Ultimately these programs are legally sound and good for the nation and they will take effect."
The White House press secretary has released the following statement on the injunction:
The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that the federal government can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws—which is exactly what the President did when he announced commonsense policies to help fix our broken immigration system. Those policies are consistent with the laws passed by Congress and decisions of the Supreme Court, as well as five decades of precedent by presidents of both parties who have used their authority to set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws.
The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts, and the district court in Washington, D.C. have determined that the President’s actions are well within his legal authority. Top law enforcement officials, along with state and local leaders across the country, have emphasized that these policies will also benefit the economy and help keep communities safe. 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.
On Friday Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, told reporters that lawyers with the Justice Department would be seeking an emergency order from an appeals court to allow the federal government to continue with Obama's executive actions.
Earnest said attorneys would file a motion by Monday with the same federal judge who issued the temporary injunction asking him to allow the government to continue with plans to offer work permits and protection from deportation to about 4 million undocumented immigrants.
Judge Andrew S. Hanen is expected to deny the motion. Lawyers would then likely file an appeal with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and then the Supreme Court.
The move would allow the government to continue with its plans to implement the Obama's executive actions while the court makes a determination on the lawsuit.
Chris Geidner contributed reporting.
Adolfo Flores is a national security correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. He focuses on immigration.
Contact Adolfo Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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