A Brownsville-based federal judge on Tuesday denied the Obama administration’s request to let a controversial immigration program proceed while the issue plays out in the courts.
United States District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled that his initial decision to halt the president’s November executive action — which seeks to grant deportation relief and a work permit to up to 5 million undocumented immigrants, including a portion of the 1.6 million currently living in Texas — was the right one.
Hanen initially ruled that the White House violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs the way federal policies are crafted and how much input the public gets. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has called Obama's action "beyond any president’s authority," and says it "would inevitably cause irreparable harm to our state, imposing hundreds of millions of dollars in costs on Texas.”
Gov. Greg Abbott, the state's former attorney general, filed the lawsuit against the Obama administration in December before being sworn in as governor. Texas is part of a 26-state coalition that challenged the executive action.
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Hanen blocked the measure in February, and the Obama administration immediately requested that the judge delay his own order. But on Tuesday, Hanen reiterated that wasn’t going to happen.
“Having considered the positions of all parties and the applicable law, this court remains convinced that its original findings and rulings in the Order of Temporary Injunction and Memorandum Opinion and Order issued on Feb. 16, 2015 … were correct,” he wrote in a 15-page opinion.
Hanen also admonished the Obama administration over an advisory it filed in March. That advisory told the court that between Nov. 24 and Feb. 16, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services granted about 100,000 three-year deferred action requests. That came after the administration told the court the first phase of the program, an expanded version of 2012’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, was set to begin on Feb. 18.
“The court finds that the government’s multiple statements on this subject were indeed misleading," he wrote.
The Obama administration has already asked a federal appeals court to allow the immigration program to move forward while the issue plays out in the courts. That appellate court, the 5th Circuit in New Orleans, has not yet ruled. Oral arguments are set for April 17.