U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday he will appeal a Texas judge’s ruling that he exceeded his presidential authority on immigration policy last year. Although the Department of Homeland Security will not accept requests from illegal immigrants for legal status until the appeal is decided, the Obama administration will continue “preparatory work” in the meantime.
“We’re not going to disregard this federal court ruling. The law is the law in this country and we take things a step at a time,” Obama said during a pool meeting Tuesday, adding that he’s not willing to “just stand by and do nothing.”
U.S. District Court Judge Andrew S. Hanen ruled late Monday to temporarily block implementation of Obama’s executive order that would have extended deferred action to millions of undocumented immigrants, allowing them the opportunity to obtain legal status, driver’s licenses, work permits and other government benefits. One of the programs was set to take effect Wednesday. Obama announced his executive actions on immigration in November.
The state of Texas filed suit against the federal government in December on behalf of a coalition of 26 states, asserting Obama’s actions were illegal. Hanen ruled that the states proved they are likely to suffer “irreparable harm” from the effects of the deferred action programs.
The judge’s ruling does not affect the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, for the Department of Homeland Security is still accepting applications. The court’s order does not affect the department’s ability to set and implement enforcement priorities, Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement Tuesday.
Obama said Tuesday he has pushed Congress on funding for the Department of Homeland Security and is not interested in “political rhetoric.”
“We should not be tearing some mom away from her child when the child has been born here and that mom has been living here the last 10 years minding her own business and being an important part of the community,” the president said during the pool meeting. “We should be focused on stopping the people at the borders, reinforcing our effectiveness there, going after criminals and felons who are in our midst, and strengthening our systems for legal immigrations. Those are all the things that we could be doing through a comprehensive immigration reform bill.”
Obama appeared confident his appeal would overturn the judge’s preliminary injunction. “The law is on our side and history is on our side,” Obama told reporters in the Oval Office Tuesday, according to USA Today.