A federal judge’s decision has halted President Obama’s executive action on immigration. A federal judge in Texas blocked President Obama’s policy that would have allowed millions of undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses, work permits and other government benefits.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued a 123-page opinion that stated that the Department of Homeland Security erred in failing to allow public comment on the new policies before implementation and that the department must follow the notice-and-comment rulemaking process in the Administrative Procedure Act, despite the public perception that Obama made the policy change through executive order.
The state of Texas, along with more than 20 other states, sued to stop what has been referred to as federal overreach on immigration matters.
Judge Hanen’s ruling was made just before a portion of that policy was to go into effect on Wednesday, February 18. The executive actions set to take effect Wednesday would have allowed an estimated 300,000 undocumented immigrants to apply for legal status if they came to the United States before age 16 and lived in the United States since 2010.
The ruling also affects a similar executive action for an estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as adults that was set to go into effect in May.
Due to the decision, the Obama administration has announced the suspension of the implementation of its plan to help undocumented immigrants integrate more fully into their communities. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the administration is planning to appeal the court order.
Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department is examining the opinion to determine the best way to proceed. The appeal will go to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans when filed.
Other parts of those executive actions are not affected by Judge Hanen’s ruling. The program to legalize immigrants who arrived in the United States as children that started in 2012 will continue to operate as it currently has. Homeland Security will continue to defer the deportation of undocumented immigrants considered a low priority as defined by the administration.