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States urge judge to keep immigration plan on hold

A coalition of states' attorneys general argued Tuesday that President Obama’s own actions should convince a federal judge to keep a controversial immigration plan on hold.

The response comes after the administration asked U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen to let Obama’s executive action on immigration, which was announced in November and would grant millions of undocumented immigrants a renewable work permit and temporary reprieve from deportation, proceed while the issue plays out in the courts.

Hanen ruled on Feb. 16 that the executive action violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs how federal regulations are enacted, and how much input the public has. The U.S. Justice Department asked Hanen to reconsider about a week after his ruling.

In Tuesday’s response, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office said that Obama “said repeatedly that he lacked this authority, and he has accepted the status quo for the bulk of his two terms,” according to court filings.

In a statement, Paxton made clear why he thinks Texas will prevail.

“Not only is the president ignoring the rule of law outright, he is unilaterally granting legal status, work authorizations and other benefits to more than 4 million individuals in this country illegally,” Paxton said. “An action of this magnitude is beyond any president’s authority and, if allowed to proceed, would inevitably cause irreparable harm to our state, imposing hundreds of millions of dollars in costs on Texas.”

The state of Texas, which was the first state to file suit and has since been joined by 25 others, argues that the administration’s claim that it needed to issue the executive order to protect the nation is also bogus.

“The President cannot claim a crisis due simply to frustration that Congress does not share his views on a legislative policy issue,” the filing states. “Congress’s choice not to enact this sweeping, new immigration reform implicitly rejects the notion that an emergency exists.”

It is unclear when Hanen will rule on the White House’s request to let the program proceed. The administration has already filed an appeal with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

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Bob Daemmrich/TexasTribune

President Obama talked about the U.S. economy in a speech on July 10, 2014, at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas.