President Barack Obama said Tuesday the law and history are on his side and he expects to prevail in the legal fight over his use of executive action to give millions of immigrants relief from deportation.
Obama, speaking at the swearing in of new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, said he disagrees with the ruling handed down late Monday saying the president failed to follow an administrative procedure law when he took the actions.
His comments led a parade of administration officials who were downplaying the ruling and forecasting ultimate victory.
Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech at the National Press Club that the late Monday decisions by U.S. District Judge Edward Hanen must be considered as only one judge's decision. He said the issue would ultimately would be decided by a higher court and this decision is an "interim" step in the process.
Hanen's decision forced the Department of Homeland Security to cancel plans to begin on Wednesday accepting applications for the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The program would shield young immigrants who qualify from deportation and grant them permission to work, both for three years. DHS also said the decision could delay the planned mid-May start of a program providing the same benefits to parents of children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents.
White House adviser Cecilia Muñoz said the administration is very confident that the executive actions taken by the president after Congress failed to pass immigration reform are well within the president's authority.
"At the end of the day, we expect to prevail legally and we expect this will be a successful process," Muñoz said.
"We are going to appeal. We believe we are on very strong legal footing," Muñoz said.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, on a call with reporters, noted another lawsuit challenging the DACA program. In 2013, a judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona challenging the DACA program.
"That judge actually ruled in favor of the administraiton and indicated that in her opinion she looked favorably on the merits of the argument that was put forward by the administration. We certainly are used to these kinds of rulings," Earnest said.
Muñoz said the administration could take other legal steps in addition to the appeal that is planned, which could include asking a higher court to stay or set aside Hanen's ruling, which would allow things to move forward again.