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Federal judge halts executive amnesty, agrees Obama is causing states to "suffer irreparable harm"

Illegal immigration

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(NaturalNews) A federal judge has ordered the Obama Administration to end its policy of refusing to deport men and women in the country illegally, a sort of "executive amnesty" that had angered congressional conservatives and rankled constitutional scholars.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen said President Obama overstepped his Executive authority in attempting to give legal status as well as "benefits and privileges" to millions of illegal immigrants.

In a memorandum accompanying his order, Hanen wrote that the lawsuit should proceed. He said without a preliminary injunction, the states will "suffer irreparable harm in this case."

"The genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle," he further noted, adding that he agreed with the plaintiffs that legalizing the presence of millions of people would be a "virtually irreversible" action.

As reported by The Washington Times, the ruling was a "stunning" rebuke of the president's presumed authority that "chides" him while throwing "the White House's plans into disarray" just a day before applications were to be accepted.

Opponents of the president's action had always maintained that the Executive branch lacked the authority to issue such a sweeping order and that any changes in immigration statutes had to come from the Legislative branch (Congress). Article 1, Sect. 8 of the Constitution provides for the Legislature to establish "uniform" naturalization rules.

Obama: I don't have the authority to issue this order

In addition, opponents note that Obama himself, on nearly two dozen occasions, admitted he did not have the authority to issue the order he eventually issued.

In response, White House officials said the government would appeal Hanen's decision, but it was not clear that the case would make it through the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans or the U.S. Supreme Court before the Department of Homeland Security planned to begin accepting the first applications under the new amnesty.

"The DHS was not given any 'discretion by law' to give 4.3 million removable aliens what the DHS itself labels as 'legal presence,'" Hanen wrote in issuing his injunction. "In fact, the law mandates that these illegally-present individuals be removed. The DHS has adopted a new rule that substantially changes both the status and employability of millions. These changes go beyond mere enforcement or even non-enforcement of this nation's immigration scheme."

The judge's decision now gives a coalition of 26 states led by Texas more time to pursue a lawsuit against the federal government that seeks to permanently upend the order. As many as 5 million people inside the U.S. illegally could be affected.

Texas officials applauded Hanen's order. The state's attorney general, Ken Paxton, said the ruling is a victory for "the rule of law in America."

And Gov. Greg Abbott, who led Texas into the lawsuit as the state's former attorney general, said the decision "rightly stops the president's overreach in its tracks," KHOU reported.

Right away, the ruling became part of a major debate over homeland security funding. The House has passed a measure that fully funds DHS for the coming fiscal year but forbids spending any funds to enforce Obama's order. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, says he does not have 60 votes to overcome minority Democrats' filibuster of the House-passed bill, thereby preventing it from even coming up for a vote. Obama has said he would veto any DHS funding legislation that contains a provision defunding his action.

No authority to confer benefits

Some have suggested that McConnell eliminate the filibuster rule altogether so that he can at least schedule a vote on the measure. Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., now minority leader, invoked the so-called "nuclear option" in November 2013, when he eliminated the filibuster rule for the consideration of most of Obama's judicial nominees.

Hanen's ruling does not mean that the illegal immigrants affected are going to be immediately deported. In fact, Hanen said that, with Obama in office, they are not likely to be deported at all, noting that the president had established "priorities" that put them in little danger of being removed from the country, even without the formal amnesty.

And while Hanen acknowledged that Obama has authority under his Executive powers to establish such law enforcement priorities, he cannot confer additional taxpayer-supported benefits to them.

Also see:

Obama himself has admitted he "changed the law."

Liberal constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University's School of Law is an Obama supporter who believes his executive amnesty was unconstitutional.










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