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ASU Law Professor: New Immigration Injunction Lacks Clout

PHOTO: A Texas court ruling is temporarily halting immigration programs that President Obama created through executive action. Photo courtesy of Whitehouse.gov.
PHOTO: A Texas court ruling is temporarily halting immigration programs that President Obama created through executive action. Photo courtesy of Whitehouse.gov.
February 18, 2015

PHOENIX - A court order has blocked President Obama's immigration programs that could allow several million undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States temporarily - but an Arizona State law professor says the court decision lacks the legal standing to cause permanent interruption.

Paul Bender, a professor at the Sandra Day O'Connor School of Law at Arizona State University, said the ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen claims that Texas would suffer financially because it would have to issue driver's licenses to people who qualify for the immigration programs. However, he said, "that's a very shaky ground of standing to me, because the president's order would not require states to issue driver's licenses. That's up to the state."

When challenging a federal law or action, Bender said, states have to prove that they have "standing," meaning they would be harmed in some way if the law or program is implemented. Hanen issued the injunction after 26 states, including Arizona, sued the federal government to halt the controversial programs created through Obama's executive action.

In response to the decision, Obama said his actions are supported by legal precedent and history, and that his administration is appealing the order.

Even if the case advances, Bender said, he believes the courts would ultimately support the president's use of executive action.

"And so, I think the ultimate outcome would be that the courts would hold that classifying people in order to guide the government in how to exercise its discretion is an executive privilege," he said, "and the courts won't interfere with that."

As a result of the court order, the Department of Homeland Security said it will not expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or "DACA" program, which was scheduled to begin today. DACA allows some undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to get a driver's license and become eligible for employment if they meet certain requirements.

The judge's ruling is online at pdfserver.amlaw.com.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - AZ