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2015-06-04

Executive action on immigration on hold

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

A long-awaited decision by the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals - a court second only to the US Supreme Court - came down Tuesday, May 26. In a 3-2 decision, the appellate federal court refused to lift a Texas judge's injunction that kept President Barack Obama's sweeping immigration plan from taking effect. The appeals court ruled in favor of 26 states challenging Obama's executive action on immigration.
The ruling stated that Obama's executive action, which prohibited the deportation of an estimated 4.7 million illegal immigrants, must remain on hold while the government appeals its blocking. The next day, the administration announced it would not ask the Supreme Court to reverse the appellate court's decision.
The case rapidly became the focal point of Obama's efforts to change US immigration policy by bypassing Congress. He signed the executive order on immigration last November.
Commenting on the appeals court's decision, US Congressman Lamar Smith said, "I am encouraged by the decision to uphold a Texas judge's injunction preventing the Obama administration from forging ahead with unilateral amnesty actions.
"I will continue to be a vocal supporter of the Texas-led, 26-state lawsuit and our nation's rule of law. The American people should also be encouraged by this ruling, which shows that the courts are still willing to put a check on an overreaching executive branch."
Smith continued, "As the president himself has admitted [repeatedly], he does not have the authority to unilaterally rewrite laws."
In December, numerous states, following the lead of the Lone Star State, filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging Obama's executive overreach on immigration. Along with Smith, Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and House Chairman Robert Goodlatte of Virginia signed and submitted an amicus brief sto the federal court supporting the states' lawsuit.
In February, a federal judge temporarily blocked the administration's unilateral immigration actions. Immediately, politicos at the US Department of Justice filed an appeal to lift the injunction. Oral arguments were heard by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on April 17.
Supported by more than 100 members of the House and Senate, Smith, Cruz, Cornyn and Goodlatte filed another brief earlier this month. That brief indicated that lawmakers supported upholding the injunction which stymied the federal government from implementing the president's executive actions on immigration.
Praising the appellate court's recent ruling, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a written statement which read, in part, "President Obama abdicated his responsibility to preserve and protect the United States Constitution when he issued this executive action. After months of obfuscation and stall tactics by his Administration, victory for the Constitution has been awarded and the Rule of Law restored."
Abbott continued, "We live in a nation governed by a system of checks and balances, and the President's attempt to bypass the will of the American people was successfully checked again. I am pleased the Court of Appeals preserved the injunction against President Obama's unlawful action and recognized the fundamental principles upon which our nation was founded."
However, in the next few months - and with a new panel of judges - the 5th Circuit Court will again rule on whether the administration can appeal the block to the executive order.
(Sources: Newsmax, National Immigration Law Center and Center for American Progress)