Appeals court denies request to lift hold on Obama immigration plan

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from MSNBC,

An appeals court on Tuesday rejected the Obama administration’s request to lift the temporary freeze placed on the president’s sweeping executive actions on immigration.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to stay the preliminary injunction that a Texas judge placed on President Obama’s immigration measures in February, determining that the lawsuit brought by Texas and 25 other states would likely succeed in challenging those actions.

The ruling Tuesday affects millions of undocumented immigrants who would have qualified for the executive measures – known as DAPA and DACA expansion. Together, the two programs would have protected more than 4 million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation, granting them a temporary work permit and legal status in the United States.

The court also rejected the administration’s request to limit the injunction to only the states involved in the lawsuit, arguing that it would create a “patchwork system” that would undermine uniform enforcement. “There is a substantial likelihood that a partial injunction would be ineffective because DAPA beneficiaries would be free to move between the states,” the court said.

The decision is not entirely unexpected. The Fifth Circuit has garnered a reputation as one of the most conservative appeals court in the country, and it was clear that the Obama administration faced stiff odds after its unprecedented two-hour oral arguments last month. Two of the three judges serving on the panel were appointed by Republican presidents.

Judge Stephen Higginson, an Obama appointee, wrote the dissent, arguing the issue was not up for the courts to decide.

“The underlying issue presented to us – the order in which non-citizens without documentation must be removed from the United States – must be decided, presently is being decided, and always has been decided, by the federal political branches,” Higginson said. “The political nature of this dispute is clear from the names on the briefs: hundreds of mayors, police chiefs, sheriffs, attorneys general, governors, and state legislators – not to mention 185 members of Congress, 15 states and the District of Columbia on the one hand, and 113 members of Congress and 26 states on the other.”

The Department of Justice reiterated in the past that it is prepared to take the issue to the highest court and that ultimately, the administration would prevail. It will likely have to continue down this legal maze for months, further stalling the DACA expansion and DAPA programs that were originally scheduled to launch in February and May respectively.

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