President Obama’s executive authority hit another wall of resistance when a judge in Texas temporarily blocked his immigration plan. Monday, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ordered a temporary injunction to effectively stifle the president’s plan to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. Hanen found that the administration had not complied with the procedures needed for putting Obama’s broad moves on immigration into effect.
“Judge Hanen’s decision rightly stops the president’s overreach in its tracks,” Gov. Greg Abbott told the press. Texas is lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.
The order from Hanen in Brownsville, Texas bolsters the lawsuit filed by 26 other states against the Obama initiative, which was already encumbered by its attachment to funding for the Department of Homeland Security.
Apparently, the ruling, at least for the moment, empowers the Republican Congress that passed legislation to fund the DHS, providing the president’s plan on immigration was removed.
Tuesday, the Obama administration said the Department of Justice would appeal the action but that, too, may be a dead end because the appeal will be heard by the conservative Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Obama’s plan, announced in late November, would allow nearly five million illegal immigrants to remain in the country without fear of deportation. Such a plan is ostensibly earmarked for those immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents.
The proposal was a decisive step toward immigration reform that to date has been nonexistent. Not since the Reagan administration has there been any substantial action on immigration reform. Obama’s administration billed the moves as the biggest shift in American immigration policy since the 1986 changes under President Ronald Reagan.
Obviously, the ruling angered officials in Mexico, from where many of the immigrants come, Mexico’s Foreign Ministry lamented the ruling, saying Obama’s moves provided “a just migration solution for millions of families and could reinforce the significant contributions of Mexican migrants to the American economy and society.”
Hanen’s action comes as no surprise. He issued an order in 2013 criticizing the federal government for not prosecuting a mother who had her 10-year-old daughter smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border. He also said taxpayers should not bear the burden of moving immigrant children around the United States to reunite them with family members after they cross the border illegally.
The White House argues the executive action fell within Obama’s presidential powers, but that the best solution is for Congress to pass meaningful immigration reform. The White House said the Supreme Court and Congress had made clear that the federal government can set priorities in enforcing immigration laws, “which is exactly what the president did when he announced commonsense policies to help fix our broken immigration system.” Obama issued his orders after House Republicans blocked bipartisan immigration reform legislation passed by the Senate in 2013.
A senior House Republican aide said that Monday’s injunction “could potentially help unstick the situation” over the homeland security funding, but it was too early to tell whether it would clear the way for the House to pass a “clean” spending bill free of immigration restrictions.
A senior Democratic congressional aide expressed skepticism that Republicans would take the injunction as a “way out,” noting the judge’s action may be overturned before the Feb. 27 deadline for funding the department.
After Hanen’s order, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the top Republicans in Congress, called on Democrats to allow passage of their homeland security bill in the Senate.
Immigration is a potent political issue in the United States, as it is in many countries, and is sure to become an important topic in the 2016 presidential campaign that is already underway.