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Feds Strike Back Against States on Obama Immigration Action

Joselyn Vargas, 7, of Hyattsville, Md., waves a U.S. flag during a rally in Lafayette Park across from the White House in Washington, Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, thanking President Obama for his executive action on illegal immigratio. Vargas' parents are eligible under the executive action as the girl and her younger sister are U.S. citizens. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)Jacquelyn Martin / AP

The Justice Department on Monday asked a Texas judge to set aside his week-old ruling that froze Obama administration programs designed to shield some immigrants from deportation and allow them to work.

The department also notified the judge that it intends to appeal last week’s ruling. It asserted that if there is not response by the close of business Wednesday, it may have to appeal to "protect their interests."

Last week's ruling, by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, put on hold programs authorized by President Barack Obama.

Texas, joined by 25 other states, had challenged Obama’s authority to use executive action to provide protection from deportation to millions of immigrants. Some came as children, and some have had children who are citizens or legal residents.

Hanen concluded that the deportation deferral programs, known best by the acronyms DACA and DAPA, were implemented improperly and would burden states. He did not rule on whether Obama violated the Constitution by creating the programs, as the states alleged.

The ruling blocked government plans to begin last week accepting applications for one of the programs. Immigration groups are still encouraging people to prepare for eventual implementation of the programs. If the government’s request for a stay is granted, the programs could go forward.

If the stay is denied, the government has asked that it only apply in Texas.

Congress has been mired in debate over Department of Homeland Security funding, which runs out at the end of the week, and whether the bill providing more money should include amendments to stop the deportation deferrals.

--NBC's Pete Williams contributed to this report.

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