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Old 03-13-2015
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Default Government Challenges Court Ruling Blocking Obama’s Immigration Actions

Nathan Koppel
March 12, 2015 8:08 p.m. ET

The Obama administration asked a U.S. appellate court Thursday to let it move ahead with new immigration measures while it appeals a ruling by a federal judge in Texas that blocked them.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Brownsville, Texas, sided last month with officials from 26 largely Republican states who had sued, contending that President Barack Obama overstepped his authority.

An injunction issued by Judge Hanen prevented part of Mr. Obama’s executive action—which would have permitted about four million people in the country illegally to apply for deferred deportation and work authorizations—from taking effect.

In a brief filed with the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the administration said Judge Hanen’s ruling undermined the federal government’s authority to prioritize which undocumented immigrants to deport.

“The Constitution does not entitle states to intrude into the uniquely federal domain of immigration enforcement,” the administration said, asking the Fifth Circuit to stay Judge Hanen’s injunction by March 26, at the latest.

The administration has filed a separate appeal of the injunction with the Fifth Circuit.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is leading the suit by the states, objected to the administration’s latest request.

“President Obama’s unconstitutional use of executive power to accomplish what he couldn’t do in Congress sets a dangerous precedent that threatens the fabric of our republic,” he said in a statement Thursday.

The Justice Department asked Judge Hanen last month to postpone his ruling while it pursues an appeal.

But the judge has so far declined to grant the request. Instead, he recently scheduled a March 19 hearing to examine a side dispute.

The 26 states filed a brief last week claiming the administration, beginning late last year, implemented part of its immigration program by issuing expanded work permits, even though it had allegedly represented to Judge Hanen that it wouldn’t do so until February.

“In an apparent attempt to quickly execute President Obama’s unlawful, unconstitutional amnesty plan, the Obama administration appears to have already been issuing expanded work permits,” Mr. Paxton said in a statement accompanying the brief.

The Justice Department on Thursday filed a brief with Judge Hanen claiming the administration had implemented only a discrete aspect of its immigration program that wasn’t being challenged in the suit, and that the issue had no bearing on whether to grant a stay.

A national immigrant rights’ group on Thursday said it supported the administration request. “Our communities are robbed of the opportunity to live free from fear of deportation and our economy is deprived of much-needed fiscal benefits with each day that this injunction remains in place,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.
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