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Federal judge stalls Obama's executive action on immigration

Published:Wednesday | February 18, 2015 | 2:00 AM
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, accompanied by House Democrats, calls on their GOP colleagues to pass a funding bill for the Homeland Security Department that does not contain provisions aimed at blocking President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration.

HOUSTON (AP):

A federal judge in South Texas has temporarily blocked President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration, giving a coalition of 26 states time to pursue a lawsuit that aims to permanently stop the orders.

United States (US) District Judge Andrew Hanen's decision late Monday puts on hold Obama's orders that could spare from deportation as many as five million people who are in the US illegally.

Hanen wrote in a memorandum accompanying his order that the lawsuit should go forward and that without a preliminary injunction the states would "suffer irreparable harm in this case".

Irreversible action

"The genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle," he wrote, adding that he agreed that legalising the presence of millions of people is a "virtually irreversible" action.

In a statement early yesterday, the White House said it would appeal. It defended the executive orders issued in November as within the president's legal authority, saying the US Supreme Court and Congress have said federal officials can establish priorities in enforcing immigration laws.

"The district court's decision wrongly prevents these lawful, common sense policies from taking effect and the Department of Justice has indicated that it will appeal that decision," the statement said.

The appeal will be heard by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

The first of Obama's orders, to expand a programme that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the US illegally as children, was set to become effective today. The other major part of Obama's order, which extends deportation protections to parents of US citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for some years, was not expected to begin until May 19.