Feds ask appeals court to reverse order blocking immigration actions

The Obama administration on Thursday asked a federal appeals court to reverse a judge’s order that prohibits President Obama from implementing his recent executive actions…

President Obama’s executive actions on immigration were blocked last month when a judge issued a temporary injunction. On Thursday, the Justice Department asked the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the judge’s order. (Photo by Mandel Ngan-Pool/Getty Images)

The Obama administration on Thursday asked a federal appeals court to reverse a judge’s order that prohibits President Obama from implementing his recent executive actions on immigration that would provide deportation relief to millions of undocumented immigrants.

Obama’s new deferred action program for parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, as well as the expanded deferred action program for undocumented youth were both put on hold last month after U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen issued a preliminary injunction order. He did so after Texas and 25 other states filed a lawsuit, challenging the legality of Obama’s executive actions.

The Justice Department is now asking the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse Hanen’s preliminary injunction order. It filed an emergency stay on Thursday, saying the order was “unprecedented and wrong.”

“The Constitution does not entitle States to intrude into the uniquely federal domain of immigration enforcement,” the Justice Department wrote. “Yet the district court has taken the extraordinary step of allowing a State to override the United States’ exercise of its enforcement discretion in the immigration laws.”

The Justice Department also said the court should “stay the injunction in its entirety or, at the very least, stay it with respect to implementation in States other than Texas, or States that are not parties to this suit.” In addition, it requested that the court act on the motion within 14 days.

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This comes after the Justice Department filed an appeal last month, asking Hanen to rule by Monday on whether he would reverse his preliminary injunction order. But instead of ruling on the appeal, Hanen ordered a hearing for March 19 in Brownsville, Texas.

In a separate filing earlier on Thursday, the Justice Department informed Hanen that it planned to file an emergency stay with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals “in light of the urgent circumstances and critical federal interests at issue.” Those interests include the “need to protect national security, public safety, and the integrity of the border.”

“Defendants have concluded that they must now seek emergency relief in the Fifth Circuit to protect those interests,” the Justice Department wrote, adding that it still plans to attend the March 19 hearing.

Immigration advocates applauded the Justice Department for filing the emergency stay request with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“This filing rightly recognizes that our communities are robbed of the opportunity to live free from fear of deportation and our economy is deprived of much-needed fiscal benefits with each day that this injunction remains in place,” said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.

Meanwhile, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network called on the Obama administration to take “additional steps to protect hard-working immigrant families and workers from deportation while this case works its way through the system.”

“It can start by ending the failed practice of mining the local criminal justice system for deportations in order to meet its ill-conceived and self-imposed quota,” said Jessica Karp Bansal, the group’s litigation director.

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