The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to lift a Texas judge's injunction that put on hold Obama administration immigration programs providing deferrals of deportations and work permits for millions of immigrants illegally in the U.S.
The programs were made possible through executive action ordered by President Barack Obama. The appeals court ruled 2-1 against the administration Tuesday. The decision arises from a lawsuit filed by 26 states opposing the programs, known by their acronyms DACA and DAPA. The lawsuit did not challenge a more limited form of DACA that Obama authorized in 2012.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, whose state is leading the legal challenge, hailed the decision saying Obama's "attempt to bypass the will of the American people was successfully checked again today."
The federal government had asked the appeals court for an emergency stay, setting aside the Texas judge's block on Obama's action. But the appeals court said the government is unlikely to succeed in its appeal of the Texas judge's decision and so would not issue the stay. In addition, the appeals court rejected an additional government request that the programs be allowed to go forward in other states outside of Texas.
The executive action programs have become highly political, setting off a congressional stalemate over a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the programs and also becoming an issue in the 2016 presidential political campaigns. Candidates are being asked on the trail where they stand on the programs and whether they plan to repeal them should they win the White House.
Under heavy pressure from allies and Latinos, Obama took executive action last December to prevent the deportation of young immigrants here illegally - many brought by their parents to the U.S. when they were small children – as well as parents, also here illegally, but who have U.S. citizen or legal resident children. His action followed failed attempts to get a vote on immigration reform legislation in the Republican-led House.
The action incensed many in the GOP and more than two dozen states, led by Texas, sued to block Obama's action, claiming it was unconstitutional and that his administration had not followed proper administrative procedures in establishing the new programs.
The Texas judge in the case issued a temporary injunction agreeing proper procedures were not followed, but not ruling on the constitutional question. The federal government appealed to have the injunction removed, asking for an "emergency stay" which was rejected Tuesday.
After Tuesday's ruling, Ruth Guerra, Republican National Committee (RNC) Director of Hispanic Media, said in a statement that, "Today’s decision by the courts should come as no surprise to President Obama, who admitted over 22 times he didn’t have the legal authority to take this politically-motivated action or to Hillary Clinton who’d like to go further."
Several Latino and immigration rights groups who have supported the executive action programs swiftly responded following the appeals court decision.
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Linda Sanchez said in a statement that the CHC stands "in solidarity" with the millions of affected families who qualify for the executive action programs that are on hold. "The fear of deportation is a real and devastating burden that many of our Latino families live with, and one that should not continue to consume the lives of undocumented immigrants indefinitely."
Kika Matos, spokeswoman for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, stated “this is a temporary setback, but one that we do not take lightly...Our movement will continue to fearlessly escalate so our voices are heard during this fight."
Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, called on the Justice Department to appeal Tuesday's decision to the Supreme Court "without delay." She and others expressed confidence that they would ultimately prevail.