A Texas federal judge appointed by George W. Bush has ordered a temporary halt to President Obama’s ambitious executive-branch immigration reform plan just as one of its programs was about to begin operating. Andrew Hanen, who has publicly criticized Obama’s immigration policies in the past, ordered the administration’s reforms—which include official deportation deferrals and work permits for certain undocumented immigrants—suspended until he makes a final ruling on the case, which was brought on behalf of Texas and 25 other states. From the New York Times:
In his opinion, Judge Hanen accused administration officials of being “disingenuous” when they said the president’s initiatives did not significantly alter existing policies. He wrote that the programs were “a massive change in immigration practice” that would affect “the nation’s entire immigration scheme and the states who must bear the lion’s share of its consequences.” He said the executive actions had violated laws that the federal government must follow to issue new rules, and he determined “the states have clearly proven a likelihood of success on the merits.”
Federal officials are expected to appeal Hanen’s ruling at a circuit court in New Orleans, the AP writes. A program that “protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children” is (or was) scheduled to begin operating Wednesday.
The states supporting the lawsuit brought before Hanen are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Twelve other states—Washington, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Vermont—and the District of Columbia have filed a related amicus brief supporting the Obama administration.
Update, 2:55 p.m.: Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson says the Obama administration will abide by Judge Hanen’s ruling but plans an appeal.