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White House to seek stay of immigration ruling

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White House to seek stay of immigration ruling

  • President Barack Obama meets with advisors in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Aug. 4, 2014.
    Pete Souza/White HousePresident Barack Obama meets with advisors in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Aug. 4, 2014.

The Obama administration will ask a court on Monday to allow the president’s controversial immigration order to move forward after a Texas judge halted the program this week.

“The Department of Justice has made a decision to file a stay in this case,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Friday, according to a transcript of a news conference. “I would anticipate that they will file documents at the district court level on Monday at the latest.”

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen blocked the executive action, which was announced in November. The policy would have allowed an estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants — including some 1.46 million in Texas — to apply for a work permit and a reprieve from deportation.

Earnest said the stay request is separate from an appeal of the ruling, which the administration still plans to file. If the stay is granted, the administration could begin accepting applications for the program, which it was slated to begin doing on Wednesday. But Earnest added that there is no certain timeline if the stay is issued.

“[The appeal] was something that we announced in the immediate aftermath of the decision,” he said. “And we will seek that appeal because we believe that when you evaluate the legal merits of the arguments, that there is a solid legal foundation for the President to take the steps that he announced late last year to reform our broken immigration system.”

Hanen ruled in a 123-page opinion that the Obama administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs the way regulations are made and how much input the public has. 

But he did not reject the case based on whether the president had the authority to change immigration laws by circumventing Congress.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, the state's former attorney general, filed the lawsuit before being sworn in as governor. On Friday, he said the stay request should be denied.

"A stay is typically granted to have the status quo maintained," Abbott said in a statement. "Here the status quo is the immigration law passed by Congress, not the executive action by the President that rewrites immigration law. The President’s lawless trampling of the Constitution thwarts the status quo."

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose office is now handling the case, expressed confidence that the state will prevail.

"We are a nation of laws, and I will vigorously defend the United States Constitution, as Texas and our fellow states continue to fight back against the aggressive overreach of this lawless administration,” he said in a statement.

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