Maybe I'm just too cynical, but this ruling from a Bush appointee seems suspiciously well-timed to prevent the Republican majority from having to follow through on their threat to defund DHS. Via the Washington Post:
A federal judge in Texas last night temporarily blocked the Obama administration’s executive actions on immigration. The judge, responding to a suit filed by 26 Republican-run states, did not rule on the legality of immigration orders but said there was sufficient merit to the challenge to warrant a suspension while the case goes forward.
No law gave the administration the power “to give 4.3 million removable aliens what the Department of Homeland Security itself labels as ‘legal presence,’” the judge said in a memorandum opinion. “In fact the law mandates that these illegally-present individuals be removed. The Department of Homeland Security “has adopted a new rule that substantially changes both the status and employability of millions.”
[...] The administration’s directives announced in November have been vigorously challenged by Republicans in Congress and across the country, who cite them as examples of what House Speaker John A. Boehner has called Obama’s “legacy of lawlessness.” The administration has defended them as routine exercises of presidential authority, made necessary by Congress’ failure to enact comprehensive revisions to U.S. immigration law. U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen in Brownsville strongly disagreed.
It was a major, if temporary, defeat for the administration, which argued that the case should be thrown out as meritless, “based on rhetoric, not law.”
The immediate impact appeared likely to at least delay the application process, which was to begin Wednesday, for some undocumented immigrants wishing to take advantage of the new policies.
Hanen was appointed to the bench by George W. Bush and has been outspoken against the administration’s immigration policies in other cases recently.
[...] Republicans in Congress have threatened to deny funding to the Department of Homeland Security unless the appropriation includes provisions rolling back the immigration orders — amendments certain to be vetoed by Obama, possibly leading to a partial DHS shutdown.
Specifically, the lawsuit claimed that the president’s orders unilaterally changed federal immigration law, usurping Congress’s exclusive power to legislate, and violated the president’s constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
It also said Obama violated the Administrative Procedure Act by not running his orders through the elaborate process of rulemaking — including 90-day notices and comment periods — instead just ramming them through via directives.
The administration countered that the states would suffer no harm from the executive orders and thus they had no standing to sue. It argued as well that the executive branch has sufficient power over immigration, including “prosecutorial discretion,” to implement the changes just as it did.
Hanen based his temporary injunction on his belief that the administration, in making such a sweeping change to what current law “mandates,” at the very least failed to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act’s provisions on “notice and comment.” He said the case should go forward rather than be thrown out, as the administration has urged.