Court again blocks implementation of Obama’s executive order on immigration

The Obama administration’s November 2014 executive action to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation has suffered a legal setback yesterday. The fifth U.S. circuit court of appeals in New Orleans, in a 2-1 decision, has upheld a May 2015 injunction which blocked the implementation of the Obama administration’s deferred-deportation plan. Legal analysts said the decision was not unexpected, as the court of appeals’ decision came several months after the same court had denied an emergency stay request from the Justice Department. The issue is now likely to go to the Supreme Court. The appeals court said in its ruling that it was denying the government’s appeal to stay the May injunction “after determining that the appeal was unlikely to succeed on its merits.”

The fifth U.S. circuit court of appeals in New Orleans, in a 2-1 decision, has upheld a May 2015 injunction which blocked the implementation of the Obama administration’s deferred-deportation plan. Legal analysts said the decision was not unexpected, as the court of appeals’ decision came several months after the same court had denied an emergency stay request from the Justice Department.

The issue is now likely to go to the Supreme Court.

The Washington Post reports that twenty-six states, all led by Republican governors, argued that the federal government exceeded its authority in issuing an executive order which protected whole categories of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The administration has contended that it was the prerogative of the Department of Homeland Security to exercise prosecutorial discretion in deciding whether or not to begin deportation procedures against non-violent undocumented migrants with U.S. family ties.

President Obama issued the executive order in November 2014 after concluding that the Republican-controlled House would not act on overhauling the U.S. immigration system. The executive order included the expansion of a 2012 program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), protecting young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the United States illegally as children.

The appeals court said in its ruling that it was denying the government’s appeal to stay the May injunction “after determining that the appeal was unlikely to succeed on its merits.”

John Scalise, the number three Republican in the House of Representatives, said the court decision was “a major victory for the rule of law.”

Ken Paxton, Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, said in a statement on Monday that the ruling meant the state, which has led the legal challenge, “has secured an important victory to put a halt to the president’s lawlessness.”

“The president must follow the rule of law, just like everybody else,” Paxton said. “Throughout this process, the Obama Administration has aggressively disregarded the constitutional limits on executive power.”

A White House official said the administration strongly disagreed with the court decision and was considering its legal options.

“This lawsuit is preventing people who have been part of our communities for years from working on the books, contributing to our economy by paying taxes on that work, and being held accountable,” the official, who was not authorized to speak on the record, told the Post.

Patrick Rodenbush, a spokesman for the Justice Department, told the New York Times that the administration would seek to resolve the litigation quickly so immigration authorities could prioritize “the removal of the worst offenders, not people who have long ties to the United States and who are raising American children.”

The Post notes that two of the judges on the Fifth Circuit panel which ruled Monday — Jerry Smith and Jennifer Elrod, both appointed by Republican presidents — had ruled in May against the administration’s stay request, and maintained their positions in yesterday’s ruling. A third judge, Carolyn Dineen King, appointed by President Jimmy Carter, was not on the earlier panel, and she dissented Monday, ruling in favor of the Obama administration.

Judge King, in a bluntly worded dissent, said the two other judges, as well as Judge Andrew S. Hanen, the [Brownsville, Texas] District Court judge [who, on 16 February 2015, temporarily blocked Obama’s immigration action], had misstated the basic facts of the case. She accused her colleagues of basing their decisions on “conjecture, intuition or preconception.”

 

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