Opponents of President Obama’s executive amnesty got some welcome news from Houston, Texas on Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, presiding over a major lawsuit brought against the administration by a coalition of 26 states, has issued an injunction against the order. Hanen said “the genie would be impossible to put back in the bottle” if the orders were implemented before the suit was settled.
The White House has vowed to appeal the block. In a statement, the Obama administration claimed once again that the executive order was within the boundaries of the president’s authority. “The district court’s decision wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect and the Department of Justice has indicated that it will appeal that decision.”
The ruling gives the plaintiffs some breathing room, and it gives the rest of the country a glimmer of hope. It has put on hold Obama’s order to protect immigrant children from deportation, a mandate that was set to go into effect on Wednesday. May 19 is the date for the other big part of Obama’s plan, a program that would extend deportation protection to parents of citizens.
It remains to be seen what, if any, effect the ruling will have on the congressional fight over the Department of Homeland Security spending bill. As it stands now, the House bill is stalling in the Senate as Democrats filibuster away any chance to bring it to a vote. Attached to the bill are riders preventing Obama’s executive amnesty from being funded. Democrats insist they will only pass a clean bill, and the February 27 deadline is fast approaching. After that, the DHS will be forced to shut down.
Though Eric Holder has said he expects this to be decided by the Supreme Court, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is admitting temporary defeat. In a statement acknowledging the ruling, Johnson said that before the appeals process can run its course, “we recognize we must comply” with Judge Hanen’s decision.
In some ways, the ruling restores some faith that we haven’t completely abandoned the rule of law. At the same time, it’s hard to say what this victory really means. If it only delays Obama’s orders until the White House can collect six months’ worth of public comment, a celebration could be premature. If it is the first step towards dismantling Obama’s orders, on the other hand, it could clear the way for Congress to come up with meaningful, right-minded immigration reform.
As it stands now, the constitutionality of Obama’s executive amnesty is yet to be decided. But while Judge Hanen did not rule against the whole shebang, we at least know now that Obama’s illegal orders will be tested in court. After four months of watching the president get away with flouting the law, that’s an encouraging step forward. Will this ultimately culminate in mass deportations?