President Barack Obama was dealt a big blow in his unilateral action to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation after a judge blocked the plan.
United States District Judge Andrew Hanen issued a restraining order in favor of 26 states which had accused Obama of exceeding his powers, Reuters reported Wednesday.
The injunction stopped a US policy on more than 11 million people in the country illegally.
Obama disagreed with the ruling and said he expects his administration to prevail once the issue reached the higher courts.
“The law is on our side and history is on our side,” Obama told reporters in the Oval Office.
He said the administration will comply with the judge’s order and delay accepting applications from some of the illegal immigrants for deportation relief and work permits that had been set to begin on Wednesday.
“We will be prepared to implement this fully as soon as the legal issues get resolved,” Obama said. He urged Congress to pass legislation to reform the US immigration system more broadly.
Obama said the Justice Department will appeal Hanen’s preliminary injunction to the majority conservative 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Hanen has previously issued other opinions critical of the Obama administration’s enforcement of immigration laws.
Hanen’s preliminary injunction is not a ruling on the merits of the lawsuit filed by 26 states, led by Republican bastions such as Texas.
The judge issued his opinion amid a fight in the Republican-led US Congress over legislation passed by the House of Representatives to allow funding for the Department of Homeland Security only if Obama’s immigration actions were nullified.
The department is charged with securing US borders, airports and coastal waters.
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