Obama’s immigration plans derailed by Texas-led coalition

Reuters / Stringer
A US federal judge ordered an injunction to halt President Barack Obama's controversial plans to exert executive authority and allow millions of undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States.

US District Judge Andrew Hanen, ruling in favor of a lawsuit brought by Texas Governor Tony Abbott, and 25 other states, paved the way for what promises to be a lengthy court battle to determine whether Obama overstepped his authority by announcing his amnesty plans.

Just 12 states have declared their support for Obama’s immigration initiative.

READ MORE: Obama signed over 5mn non-immigrant work permits since 2009 – analyst

Speaking in Austin, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said, “President Obama abdicated his responsibility to uphold the United States Constitution when he attempted to circumvent the laws passed by Congress via executive fiat, and Judge Hanen’s decision rightly stops the president’s overreach in its tracks. We live in a nation governed by a system of checks and balances, and the president’s attempt to bypass the will of the American people was successfully checked today. The district court’s ruling is very clear – it prevents the president from implementing the policies in ‘any and all aspects.’”

Speaking with reporters, President Obama said he believes that courts will ultimately rule in favor of the White House.

"With respect to the ruling ... I disagree with it," he said, according to Reuters. "I think the law is on our side and history is on our side."

The White House also issued a statement maintaining that Obama's executive actions "are well within his legal authority" and that they are "consistent with the laws passed by Congress and decisions of the Supreme Court, as well as five decades of precedent by presidents of both parties."

Last November, the Democratic leader declared that as many as five million undocumented arrivals who are parents of US citizens or permanent residents will not be deported. He also said they will enjoy the opportunity to work in the United States, thus triggering a political firestorm as many Republicans argued the undocumented persons will take away jobs from American people, as well as place an additional burden on limited state resources.

Another Obama initiative halted in its tracks by the court injunction was an expanded version of the so-called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which granted deportation relief to individuals brought illegally to the US as children.

The program, which would have allowed an additional 270,000 people to remain in the country, was supposed to start on Wednesday.

The White House said the Department of Justice would appeal the decision, and the Dept. of Homeland Security said Tuesday that it will not accept requests for the expansion of DACA as originally planned, shutting out requests it expected to receive concerning deferrals for people brought illegally to the US.

READ MORE: Obama administration tells agents to find immigrants who should not be deported

On the other side of the political aisle, Republicans say Obama's plan essentially rewards people who have broken the law and entered the country, without following the proper protocol required by all civilized nations.

“Today’s ruling reinforces what I and many others have been saying for a long time: that President Obama acted outside the law when he went around Congress to unilaterally change our nation’s immigration laws,” US Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said in a statement.

However, many immigrant advocates support the initiative to grant relief to the some 11 million undocumented individuals.

"We firmly believe that these programs will be implemented, and whether it's now or several months from now, we have no question that the president was well within the bounds of his executive authority," Melissa Crow, Legal Director of the American Immigration Council group, told Reuters.

"We really feel that this case is more about politics than law," she said.

Clearly, fixing what many critics are calling a broken immigration system will be a major issue in the 2016 presidential elections.