A federal appeals court refused Tuesday to allow President Obama’s program to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation from going into effect. The decision by a three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals adds another delay for the undocumented immigrants who could have been protected under the president’s order. A federal judge blocked Obama’s plan in February, hours before many of them were to start applying for the new program.
Obama announced in 2012 that he would allow undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children to register with the federal government in exchange for two-year protections from deportation. In November, he said Congress had yet to fix the nation’s broken immigration system, so he would move to protect even more undocumented immigrants. Under his new program, more undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children would qualify for the deportation protections, as well as older undocumented immigrants who had U.S. citizen children.
The White House criticized the ruling, saying the two-judge majority misrepresented the facts and the law. “As the powerful dissent from Judge [Stephen] Higginson recognizes, President Obama’s immigration executive actions are fully consistent with the law,” said White House spokesperson Brandi Hoffine.
The president’s actions were designed to bring greater accountability to our broken immigration system, grow the economy, and keep our communities safe.” Hoffine said Obama’s action are “squarely within the bounds of his authority,” and are “the right thing to do” for the nation. “Fifteen states and the District of Columbia, business leaders, local law enforcement and elected officials, educators, faith leaders, legal scholars, and others have all asked the courts to allow these actions to move forward, given the important economic and public safety benefits,” she said.