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Federal Appeals Court Leaves Hold On Obama's Immigration Orders


The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will not lift a hold that has stalled President Obama's plan to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. The president sought to give temporary protection to people who were brought to the U.S. as children, and to the parents of people who live in the U.S. legally.

The decision blocks a executive action the White House issued late last year and leaves in place a hold that was issued in February by District Judge Andrew Hanen in South Texas.

The president had sought to expand the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. But Texas and other states said the new policy would place a financial burden on them, citing the cost of issuing driver's licenses to immigrants who would have new legal standing.

From today's opinion:

"The flaw in the government's reasoning is that Texas's forced choice between incurring costs and changing its fee structure is itself an injury: A plaintiff suffers an injury even if it can avoid that injury by incurring other costs.29 And being pressured to change state law constitutes an injury."

Last month, the court heard arguments from the Obama administration and from attorneys representing a coalition of 26 states that filed a lawsuit over the immigration orders. The president's actions were initially blocked to give states time to make their case.

The court wrote:

"Because the government is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its appeal of the injunction, we deny the motion for stay and the request to narrow the scope of the injunction."

As NPR's Richard Gonzales has reported for the Two-Way, the legal issues range from states' roles in setting and enforcing immigration policy to amnesty and asylum requests.

The three judges on the appeals court panel that decided the issue include one Obama appointee — Judge Stephen Higginson — along with George W. Bush appointee Judge Jennifer Elrod and Reagan appointee Jerry Smith.

The Obama administration now has the option of requesting an en banc hearing, which would include all of the appeals court's judges, or taking the matter to the Supreme Court.

Reporting on the initial ruling in February, Richard also noted, "there are 12 states, the District of Columbia and 33 mayors across the country who are supporting the Obama administration" because they want workers who are in the U.S. illegally to work legitimate jobs and pay taxes.

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