Texas and 19 other states suing over President Barack Obama’s executive order allowing as many as 4 million undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. asked a federal judge to block that policy while their lawsuit is being decided.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said immigration officials must be immediately barred from processing any paperwork for immigrants seeking protection from deportation. “It will be difficult or impossible to undo the president’s lawlessness after the defendants start granting applications,” said Abbott, a Republican who was elected governor in November, in a court filing.
Arizona, Florida and Ohio have joined the 17-state coalition, led by Texas, which sued the Obama administration on Dec. 3, seeking to overturn the president’s unilateral change to the nation’s immigration policy. The states claim Obama violated the U.S. Constitution and doesn’t have authority to grant federal benefits, such as Social Security and Medicare, to people who enter the country illegally.
Obama’s order grants quasi-legal status to more than a third of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. Undocumented immigrants must have been in the country for more than five years or have a child who is a U.S. citizen, or have been brought here themselves as children, to qualify for U.S. work permits and be protected from deportation under the new policy. They must also pass a criminal background check.
Wyn Hornbuckle, a Justice Department spokesman, didn’t immediately return phone and e-mail messages after regular business hours today seeking comment on the states’ court filing.
More than 1,000 undocumented immigrants, many of them unaccompanied children, have been crossing the border into Texas daily. The states fear an even larger wave of immigrants will try to enter the U.S. illegally on the mistaken belief Obama’s new policy will let them stay, according to papers filed in federal court in Brownsville, across the border from Mexico.
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