Immigrant rights advocates say Texas ruling won't stand

Ignoring a federal judge’s decision to block President Obama’s move to scale back deportations, immigrant rights advocates are pushing ahead with their efforts to get illegal immigrants enrolled in the program.

The advocates argue that the ruling to suspend Obama’s expanded deferred action programs was ideologically driven and will be eventually be overturned by higher courts.

“Immigrant families remain on a path to justice,” Rocio Saenz, executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, said Tuesday in a statement. “This ruling — issued by a lone, out-of-touch judge, singularly sought out by extremist Republican governors and attorney generals — is a temporary disappointment, but in no way a permanent setback.”

Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said the decision falls “far outside the legal mainstream,” noting that other courts have dismissed similar lawsuits.

“Opponents’ declarations of victory today are premature,” Hincapié said in a statement. “We are confident that the courts will ultimately side with the scores of legal experts, state leaders, city officials, and law enforcement leaders who say that these immigration initiatives are both in full compliance with law and deeply beneficial to our communities, society, and country.”

Handed down Monday by Andrew Hanen, a federal judge in Brownsville, Texas, the ruling blocks Obama’s push to halt deportations and offer work permits for millions of immigrants living in the country illegally. Twenty-five states had joined Texas in suing the administration after Obama announced the program in November, arguing that it marked a case of executive overreach that would saddle their budgets with exorbitant new costs.

Hanen, a long-time critic of the administration’s immigration policies, found that the states had a legitimate basis to bring the case. His decision prevents the administration from moving forward with the program – including the processing of applications officials were poised to begin accepting Wednesday – before he rules on the merits of the case.

“The [Department of Homeland Security] has adopted a new rule that substantially changes both the status and employability of millions,” Judge Hanen wrote. “These changes go beyond mere enforcement or even non-enforcement of this nation’s immigration scheme.”

Republicans on Capitol Hill, who have accused Obama of violating the Constitution with his execute moves on immigration, were quick to hail the decision.

“We cannot allow one man to nullify the law of the land with either a stroke of his pen or a phone call,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said in a statement.

The White House issued a statement disputing the findings and vowing to appeal.

“The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that the federal government can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws—which is exactly what the President did when he announced commonsense policies to help fix our broken immigration system,” the statement reads.

The immigration reform advocates said they’re confident that, despite the delay, the president’s program will eventually be adopted.

“In the meantime, it is of the utmost importance that those who are eligible continue gathering all necessary materials and prepare to submit their applications as soon as the program starts,” Janet Murguía, head of the National Council of La Raza, said Tuesday in a statement.

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Immigrant rights advocates say Texas ruling won't stand
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