President Obama on Monday confirmed the bad news for up to 5 million illegal immigrants in this country: He has called a halt to Department of Homeland Security preparations to shield them from the threat of deportation because his executive orders have become seriously bogged down in a court challenge.
Speaking during a news conference at the conclusion of the G7 Summit in the Bavarian town of Kruen, Germany, Obama said that his executive orders will require an elaborate “administrative apparatus” in order to be carried out. But a series of legal setbacks in the federal courts have stymied the government’s intention to move ahead with the program.
“I made a decision, which I think is the right one that we should not accept applications until the legal status of this is clarified,” he told reporters. “I don’t want to bring people in…have them jump through a lot of hoops and have the process delayed further.”
The Washington Post reported yesterday that since a federal judge in Texas first blocked the new immigration reform policy in February, DHS has suspended plans to hire as many as 3,100 new employees to implement the president’s executive orders. Most of those new employees were to be assigned to an 11-story building the government had leased for $7.8 million in suburban Arlington, Va. That building is currently virtually empty of workers.
Obama announced shortly after last November’s election that up to 5 million illegal immigrants would be eligible to be protected against deportation, provided they met certain criteria. The president’s actions came after House GOP leaders made it clear they would not consider comprehensive immigration reforms along the lines of those approved by the Senate in June 2013. Obama’s executive action would have also expanded a 2012 program that has deferred the deportation of more than 600,000 immigrants who were brought to this country as children –so-called “Dreamers.”
But after Texas and 25 other states sued to block the administration’s planned actions, arguing that they amounted to unconstitutional executive overreach, a federal judge in Texas ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and ordered the administration to hold its plans in abeyance until the case is resolved. A federal appeals court recently upheld the injunction – raising the specter that Obama’s orders could be tied up in court for much of the president’s remaining two years in office.
Obama’s decision to put the entire process on hold while the administration and its critics slug it out in court is a huge setback for advocacy groups for illegal immigrants, who have been moving ahead to recruit, mobilize and educate illegal immigrants to take advantage of Obama’s amnesty initiatives. Josh Hoyt, executive director of the Chicago-based National Partnership for New Americans, a new organization funded by billionaire George Soros, told The Washington Post, “We’re full speed ahead.”
After Obama’s announcement today, Hoyt and leaders of other pro-immigrant groups will be facing some daunting speed bumps.
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