BROWNSVILLE – Texas and more than a dozen other states have
asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to stay a case
related to their challenge of President Barack Obama’s suspension of immigration
laws covering 4 million of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United
States until after the inauguration of President-elect Donald J. Trump.
Attorneys from the Department of Justice and 26
states joined in the motion for a stay of the proceedings.
In addition to Texas, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed Dec. 3, 2014, are Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana,
Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and
Wisconsin and the governors of Mississippi, Maine, North Carolina and Idaho.
“In accordance with the president’s unilateral exercise of
lawmaking, his secretary of the Department of Homeland Security issued a
directive that purports to legalize the presence of approximately 40 percent of the
known undocumented-immigrant population, and affords them legal rights and
benefits,” the states said in their original complaint.
According to the complaint, Obama homeland security secretary ordered federal immigration officials to
extend “deferred action” to undocumented immigrants who entered the United
States before their 16th birthdays and had been in the United States continuously
for five years. This order was made under the Deferred Action for Childhood
“Although [the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal
Counsel] had cautioned the president that it was critical to DACA’s legality
that the administration evaluate every application on a case-by-case basis, the
president and DHS ignored that advice,” the plaintiffs said in the complaint.
Specifically, the complaint said, according to the
latest figures available when the lawsuit was filed, the administration has granted
deferred action to between 99.5 percent and 99.8 of DACA applicants.
The plaintiffs said the president’s unilateral suspension of
the immigration laws is illegal.
After the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for rehearing
of the case, the district court ordered the relevant parties to meet in an
effort to agree on the scheduling of further proceedings. In response to that
order, the plaintiffs requested a stay of the proceedings until Feb. 20, 2017.
“This case is at a unique juncture in which a preliminary
injunction has been fully litigated to the Supreme Court and the case has now
returned to this court,” the plaintiffs said in their stay motion. “Given the
change in administration, the parties jointly submit that a brief stay of any
further litigation in this court before beginning any further proceedings would
serve judicial efficiency and economy so that the parties have a better
understanding of how they might choose to move forward.”
Meanwhile, the plaintiffs asked that a preliminary
injunction ordered Feb. 16, 2015 remain in place. That injunction prohibits the
Obama administration from expanding DACA and stalls a move to provide similar protections
to illegal immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and green card holders.
After a federal appeals court upheld the injunction, the
U.S. Supreme Court’s review of the case ended in a 4-4 deadlock.