Obama immigration executive order halted

For now.


A federal judge late Monday halted President Barack Obama’s landmark immigration order on the eve of its implementation, denying millions of people illegally in America access to work permits and dealing a victory to Gov. Greg Abbott in his lawsuit against the program.

The decision from Judge Andrew Hanen, based in Brownsville, did not declare the executive action unconstitutional but said it should not take effect until the legal questions have been settled.

“Once these services are provided,” Hanen wrote in a 123-page ruling, “there will be no effective way of putting the toothpaste back in the tube should the plaintiffs ultimately prevail.”

Immigration activists had been bracing for an unfavorable ruling from Hanen, an appointee of President George W. Bush to the Southern District of Texas. He previously has expressed skepticism at the federal government’s ability to enforce the law at the border.

The federal government is expected to appeal the decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.


Hanen’s ruling arrived two days before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was set to start accepting applications for the program.

You can see a copy of the order here, and of the full ruling here. The Trib adds some gloating from Greg Abbott as well as this bit of caution:

Before the ruling was announced, David Leopold, a past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said he expected the Obama administration to make an emergency appeal to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals if Hanen did not rule in its favor. The federal government would also probably ask Hanen to stay his own order while the higher courts decide the case, Leopold added.

He had said that such a decision from Hanen wasn’t necessarily the death knell for the executive action.

“He’s not the last word,” Leopold said. “That is going to come from a much higher court whether it’s the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Leopold said he expected that the litigation would slow enrollment, even if a higher court makes the ultimate decision. He added that scrutiny of the program might reduce the number of participants.

“I think [the plaintiffs] know they can’t win this case. I think what they’re trying to do is very cynically, throw pizza at the wall and see what sticks,” he said.

Leopold has been loudly criticizing this lawsuit lately. I hope he turns out to be right, but the first points on the board go to the plaintiffs. We’ll see what the Fifth Circuit does with it. Ed Kilgore, Plum Line, Vox, Think Progress, Kevin Drum, TPM, Wonkblog, Daily Kos, TNR, Daily Beast, the Trib, PDiddie, Unfair Park, Hair Balls, BOR, and Campos have more.

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