Efforts to stop President Obama’s executive actions against deporting illegal immigrants are now in the hands of three appellate judges in New Orleans.
The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals judges — one appointed by a Democrat and two appointed by Republicans – heard lively oral arguments in the case Friday, according to The Associated Press.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Brownsville, Texas, is being led by Texas and lists Florida and 24 other states as petitioners.
The AP reported:
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, Texas, granted a preliminary injunction on Feb. 16 at the request of the states that oppose Obama’s action. Hanen’s rulings have temporarily blocked the Obama administration from implementing the policies that would allow as many as 5 million people in the U.S. illegally to remain.
The Justice Department appealed his ruling and Friday’s special hearing — which took more than two hours — was lively as two of the judges had plenty of questions. They centered mostly on whether an individual state can seek to undo a federal immigration policy.
“If Texas is right, it could challenge an individual’s right to seek asylum,” Benjamin Mizer, the Justice Department’s principal deputy assistant attorney general, said. “The states do not have standing in the downstream effects of a federal immigration policy.”
Scott Keller, Texas’ solicitor general, argued that the states will bear the brunt of the costs of implementing Obama’s executive actions granting amnesty to immigrants.
“This is one of the largest changes in immigration policy in the nation’s history,” Keller said. “What this is doing is conferring a legal presence [to illegal immigrants]. We absolutely have a stake.”
The AP reported:
The first of Obama’s orders — to expand a program protecting young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children — had been set to take effect Feb. 18.
The other major part would extend deportation protections to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for several years. That provision was slated to begin on May 19.
“This lawsuit is not about the wisdom of any particular immigration policy. The lawsuit is about the separation of powers,” Keller said after the hearing, according to The Los Angeles Times.
“This is about a 26-state coalition upholding the rule of law,” Keller added, noting that “the arguments went very well” and calling the judges “very engaged” and “very well-prepared.”
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