Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama is set to commute dozens of sentences for nonviolent drug offenders this week. Reuters

The United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals received written arguments this week both in favor of and in opposition to Texas Federal Judge Andrew Hanen’s injunction against President Barack Obama’s executive action on illegal immigration. The briefs were filed in advance of the court’s scheduled oral argument session on April 17 in New Orleans to determine if Hanen’s injunction should remain in place, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Hanen’s injunction blocked Obama’s November executive order to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. He approved the block at the request of a coalition of 26 states, including Texas, that allege the president’s use of executive authority was unconstitutional. Briefs filed in the Circuit Court of Appeals ranged in tone from emotional defense of undocumented individuals’ rights to pragmatic assertions on deportation tactics.

One brief, filed by lawyers who represent illegal residents of Texas, said deportation tears families apart and results in poverty. "Nationwide, children in single-parent homes are more than four times more likely to live in poverty than children with married parents. And in 2012 alone, there were 5,100 children in foster care who could not be reunited with their families because a parent had been deported or detained,” the brief said, according to the Times-Picayune.

Separately, three Democratic U.S. Senators suggested the federal government could not realistically deport all of the countries’ 11 million undocumented residents, and that deferred action could help authorities handle the load.

Detractors argue the implementation of Obama’s executive order would place an undue financial burden on southern states and allow illegal immigrants to receive job opportunities at the expense of American citizens. The coalition against the Obama administration wrote in a brief in support of Hanen’s injunction, stating it “was enjoined precisely because [the executive order] goes beyond enforcement discretion by unlawfully granting benefits” to undocumented workers.

Hanen declined this week the Justice Department’s request that he remove the injunction on his own. “It is obvious that there is no pressing, emergent need for this program,” Hanen wrote in his opinion on the matter.

He expressed concern last month that the U.S. Justice Department may have misled him as to when certain aspects of Obama’s executive order would go into effect. Justice Department attorney Kathleen Hartnett purportedly told Hanen in January that a plan to grant work permits and a deferred action window to more than 100,000 undocumented immigrants would not take effect before the injunction was in place. But the protections were implemented anyway, in accordance with federal guidelines enacted in 2012.