Photographer: John Moore/Getty Images

Obama Sets Monday Deadline for Appealing Immigration Order

The Obama administration said it will appeal a federal judge’s order blocking a controversial immigration program if he doesn’t lift it by Monday.

The White House told U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, Texas, of the new deadline in an advisory filed Wednesday after 26 states, led by Texas, urged Hanen to keep his restriction in place while their lawsuit challenging the policy is decided.

Obama’s immigration program is designed to shield as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation and provide them with work permits and some federal benefits.

Hanen, in a preliminary ruling on Feb. 16, questioned whether President Barack Obama and the Department of Homeland Security may have also overstepped their constitutional authority by unilaterally changing U.S. immigration policy, as the states allege in their lawsuit. He deferred ruling on that issue until a trial.

The Obama administration has already appealed the preliminary ruling. The administration contends the new program represents guidance for border agents to follow at their discretion, not formal rules subject to policy-making procedures. The White House also claims the executive branch has constitutional authority to set immigration enforcement priorities without congressional approval or review by federal judges.

The administration gave Hanen until the close of business March 9 to lift his injunction or said it would ask the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans to suspend it so some immigrants could start turning in deferred action applications.

Under the program, immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least five years and have a child who is a citizen, or who were brought here themselves as children, would qualify for deferred action if they pass a criminal background check.

The case is Texas v. U.S., 1:14-00254, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Brownsville).

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