Wall Street Journal
By Miguel Bustillo and Tamara Audi
November 9, 2015
A federal appeals court Monday upheld a lower court’s ruling blocking the Obama administration’s plans to defer deportations for more than four million undocumented immigrants.
The 2-1 decision by a three-judge panel of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds an injunction by a Texas federal judge that has blocked President Barack Obama’s 2014 immigration initiative, after leaders from 26 states challenged its legality.
The appeals-court ruling was widely anticipated, after a three-judge panel of the same court rejected the Obama administration arguments to quickly lift the injunction in May. But it paves the way for a potential appeal of the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court—and all but ensures that the immigration initiative will remained mired in a legal dispute through most, if not all, of Mr. Obama’s term in office.
Leaders from Texas and 25 other largely Republican states have argued that Mr. Obama’s executive immigration action represented an unconstitutional overreach of presidential power because it took place without approval from Congress.
The Justice Department has countered that the president was within his authority, and leaders in more than a dozen mostly Democratic states, as well as dozens of cities including Los Angeles and New York, have filed briefs supporting the administration.
But U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, based in Brownsville, Texas, temporarily blocked the immigration plan in February, pending a full trial on the matter, and it has been effectively stalled since.
The ruling blocked a new program called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, which would apply to an estimated four million people who have been in the country since 2010 and have a child who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
It also halted an expansion of an existing 2012 program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which allows relief from deportation for people brought to the U.S. as children.
On Monday, following oral arguments before the court in July, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court affirmed Judge Hanen’s injunction, finding that the states had legal standing to challenge the matter, an issue that has been disputed in the case, and that the states had a “substantial likelihood of success” based on the merits of their case.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton praised the ruling Monday, saying it demonstrated the strength of the states’ arguments that Mr. Obama’s actions were unlawful.
“Today, the Fifth Circuit asserted that the separation of powers remains the law of the land, and the president must follow the rule of law, just like everybody else,” Mr. Paxton said. “Throughout this process, the Obama administration has aggressively disregarded the constitutional limits on executive power.”
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice said it “is committed to taking steps that will resolve the immigration litigation as quickly as possible in order to allow DHS to bring greater accountability to our immigration system by prioritizing the removal of the worst offenders, not people who have long ties to the United States and who are raising American children.”
The spokesman added the Justice Department “is reviewing the opinion to determine how best to proceed to accomplish that goal.”
The government is working against the clock and will have to act quickly to have a chance at getting the case heard in the current term, which runs until the end of June 2016. The court, which schedules arguments in appeals from October to April each term, needs to receive the appeal and get briefs from both sides before deciding whether to accept the case. Any delay would likely push the case into the next term and past the presidential election.
Immigration advocates said they were disappointed but not surprised by the ruling, and pressed the Obama administration to swiftly appeal to the Supreme Court.
“We ask Obama to appeal to the Supreme Court immediately!” tweeted Marielena Hincapie, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, an immigration rights group. She added that a potential silver lining is that the Supreme Court could now rule by June of 2016.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com