Justice Department acts to lift hold on Obama’s immigration actions

The Justice Department has taken the first step in its efforts to undo a federal judge’s ruling that puts President Obama’s immigration executive actions on hold. The Justice…

President Barack Obama announced a series of executive actions in November to protect millions of immigrants from deportation. A federal judge from Texas issued a ruling last week to block those actions from being implemented. But on Monday, the Justice Department moved to lift the judge’s ruling. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The Justice Department has taken the first step in its efforts to undo a federal judge’s ruling that puts President Obama’s immigration executive actions on hold.

The Justice Department filed an “emergency stay” on Monday in the court of U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, Texas. Last week, Hanen issued a preliminary injunction blocking the implementation of Obama’s executive actions on immigration announced in November. In doing so, he sided with Texas and 25 other states that joined in suing Obama over his immigration actions.

SEE ALSO: Judge temporarily halts Obama’s executive actions on immigration

In a motion filed Monday, Justice Department lawyers ask Hanen to “stay” his preliminary injunction ruling and allow Obama’s executive actions to move forward while the Obama administration files an appeal. Those actions include the expansion of a deferred action program for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children and a new deferred action program for the parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

They argue a stay is necessary to ensure the Department of Homeland Security is “able to most effectively protect national security, public safety, and integrity of the border.”

“Specifically, the Deferred Action Guidance enjoined by this Court is an integral part of the Department’s comprehensive effort to set and effectuate immigration enforcement priorities that focus on the removal of threats to public safety, national security risks, and recent border crossers, thereby best securing the Homeland in the face of limited resources” Justice Department lawyers added. “Absent a stay, DHS will sustain irreparable harm—harm that would not be cured, even if Defendants ultimately prevail on that appeal.”

In addition, Justice Department lawyers say that “at the very least” the preliminary injunction blocking Obama’s executive actions on immigration should only apply to Texas, given that it was “only State whose claims of harm the Court credited.”

SEE ALSO: Advocates tell immigrants: Don’t panic and keep preparing

But it’s likely that Hanen will not reverse his own ruling. If that happens, the Justice Department is expected to take its request for a stay to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is widely known as the country’s most conservative federal appeals court.

The White House first announced that the Justice Department would file an emergency stay on Friday. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who launched the lawsuit on behalf of Texas and the other states, denounced the news and said the Obama administration’s request for a stay “should be denied.”

“A stay is typically granted to have the status quo maintained,” Abott said in a statement. “Here the status quo is the immigration law passed by Congress, not the executive action by the President that rewrites immigration law. The President’s lawless trampling of the Constitution thwarts the status quo.”

Meanwhile, immigrant rights groups, like the National Immigration Law Center, welcomed the news and applauded the Justice Department for “standing on the right side of the law and on the right side of history.”

SEE ALSO: Gridlock over DHS funding continues even after immigration ruling