UPDATE 2 p.m. EST: The administration Tuesday said it would comply with an injunction issued by a Texas judge that blocks executive actions President Obama took to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement saying it would stop taking requests for deferred action from people whose children are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. DHS also said it would not take applications from people brought to the United States illegally as children.
A federal judge ruled that the executive action on immigration reform by U.S. President Barack Obama must be temporarily halted while a lawsuit against the president is dealt with. The federal government is expected to appeal the ruling.
Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court in Texas ruled on Monday that the president’s executive action, which would protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, must be suspended until a lawsuit filed by 26 states, including Texas, which declares the plan unconstitutional, is resolved.
Judge Hanen, who is a critic of the Obama administration’s immigration policy, found that the states had satisfied the minimum legal requirements necessary to bring their lawsuit forward, and that the federal government had not complied with administrative procedures necessary to roll out such a major program.
The administration has argued that Obama is respecting precedent for federal authority on matters of immigration, but the plaintiffs have said the move represents dangerous overreach by the executive branch, which would unilaterally impose huge costs on their budgets, The New York Times reported.
The ruling was made shortly before one of the provisions of Obama’s executive action was set to come into effect on Wednesday. The administration was set to begin accepting applications for a revamped version of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which would allow undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children to stay and work legally.
Now, immigrants who were previously considered eligible will be unable to apply while the lawsuit moves forward. This would leave 230,000 immigrants open to deportation, Vox reported.
The lawsuit against the action was filed in December. Three senators and 65 House of Representatives members, all Republicans, signed a brief filed by the American Center for Law and Justice, stating their opposition to the president. "This lawsuit is not about immigration," the brief said. "It is about the rule of law, presidential power, and the structural limits of the U.S. Constitution."
A report from The Pew Research Center found that up to 4 million immigrants would be eligible for deportation relief under the executive action. The wide ranging changes made under the executive action include expanding and streamlining the visa process for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students, offering a legal reprieve for undocumented parents of citizens and legal residents, and expanding visas for farm workers, besides expanding DACA.