In a 2-to-1 decision, a federal appeals court has rejected President Obama’s directive to protect an estimated five million undocumented immigrants from deportation, challenging the president’s effort to take executive action on immigration policy in the absence of permanent congressional legislation.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld a previous decision by a Texas-based judge to prevent upwards of 4.9 million undocumented immigrants, including parents of legal U.S. citizens and residents, to temporarily legally remain in the country. The legal battle was instigated by conservative state lawmakers, who filed a 26-state lawsuit that led former President George W. Bush-appointed U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen to issue an injunction to block the directives from taking effect.
The ruling was expected from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considered one of the most conservative in the country. Still, it’s a blow to the immigrant advocates who have been fasting and rallying outside of the courthouse for days.
Though the decision is a defeat for the Obama administration, the decision on Monday night could still allow enough time for the case to be taken to the Supreme Court before Obama leaves office.
“Today’s ruling is not a surprise but is still a disappointment,” Mi Familia Vota Executive Director Ben Monterroso said in a press statement. “We have understood from the beginning of this politically driven lawsuit that the case would likely go to the U.S. Supreme Court. We urge the U.S. Department of Justice to waste no time in filing an appeal to the Supreme Court.”
“As a country we are better than the detention, deportation, and destruction of families,” President and CEO María Teresa Kumar at the advocacy group Voto Latino added. “This decision affects our mothers, our fathers, our neighbors, and our friends. I am confident that the Supreme Court will do what the Fifth Circuit failed to do, and lift the injunction on the Obama administration’s executive action.”