A federal judge in Texas is expected soon to rule on a lawsuit to block President Barack Obama's immigration measures. The suit, filed by a group of Republican governors and state attorneys general, asserts that Obama overstepped his constitutional powers by ordering the Department of Homeland Security to hold off on deporting millions of undocumented immigrants who meet specific criteria. The governors have argued that the GOP-controlled Congress is the only body that can alter immigration laws and that letting Obama's measures remain in place would inflict financial damage in their states.
Several attorneys who submitted friend-of-the-court briefs opposing the lawsuit said Tuesday the ruling could come as early as next week. The Obama administration has defended the executive action, reasoning that Republican members of the current and last Congresses refused to work with the president on a plan that included a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
In November -- shortly after the 2104 elections -- Obama announced executive actions that defer the deportation of nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants and extend work permits to many of them. Those measures add to a 2012 program that defers deportation for undocumented immigrants who were children when they arrived in the U.S., as well as their parents. Federal officials will begin accepting applications for the newest program on Feb. 18.
Judge Andrew Hanen, who heard arguments last month in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, is likely to throw the case out because of some of the plaintiff states had not proven substantial harm would be inflicted by Obama’s executive action, wrote David Leopold, past president and general counsel for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, in op-ed for the Huffington Post last week. The Obama administration had been on track to deport approximately 400,000 undocumented immigrants per year, a stark contrast to the pro-amnesty image some conservatives have given to the president, Leopold wrote.
The states involved in the lawsuit include the Mexico border states Texas and Arizona, as well as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.