Looks like DHS will be a little less busy than planned tomorrow after all. The injunction issued by a federal court in Texas has blocked Barack Obama’s attempt at executive amnesty, and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson says his office will not ignore the order:
The Obama administration will not accept applications for legal status from undocumented immigrants on Wednesday after a federal judge in Texas blocked implementation of President Obama’s policy deferring the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the administration would appeal the court ruling. “in the meantime, we recognize we must comply with it,” he said.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s ruling late Monday came just as one of those executive actions was set to take effect Wednesday. That’s the day an estimated 300,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before age 16 — and who have lived in the United States since 2010 — were eligible to apply for legal status. Another 4 million or more who came to the United States as adults would become eligible in May.
USA Today’s Gregory Korte and David Jackson also report that the issue will end up in Johnson’s lap no matter what. Obama may have started an executive action without proper regard to law when it comes to work permits, but the DACA expansion is another kind of problem. Hanen’s ruling noted that the new DHS interpretation of DACA requires them to follow the Administrative Procedures Act, posting a notice of rule change and waiting for a comment period to expire before finalizing the change. That would require at least 30 days before making the rule change effective.
Johnson made it clear he didn’t like the ruling, and presumably he’ll be working to rectify his part of it ASAP:
— Andrea Castillo (@andreamcastillo) February 17, 2015
This again impacts the political issues surrounding the funding for DHS. As long as Johnson keeps talking about implementing DAPA and DACA, Republicans have reason to withhold the funding that could be used for those purposes. If anything, the recognition of Johnson’s discretion in this matter makes the point even more acute for conservatives. One might be able to fight Obama in court over the obvious abuse of power in changing eligibility for work permits without Congressional approval, but the only way to stop Johnson on the other points is to either cut off the money or use the Congressional Research Act to void the regulatory changes — and that would require Obama’s signature.
Whether Republicans in the Senate cohere to that position also depends on politics. Noah has a post coming up soon that looks at the polling on that point, but the court decision could have a large impact on the way voters see this standoff now, too. We’ll see if Senate GOP leadership acts to get in front of this development and shape the debate in the weeks ahead.