The US Justice Department on Monday requested an emergency stay that would allow President Barack Obama’s executive order on illegal immigrants to move forward after a Texas judge last week blocked the action.
US District Judge Andrew Hanen last week issued a court order to block the immigration plan, which aims to stop deportation for some 4.7 million illegal immigrants. The Justice Department says the judge does not have the authority to block the plan, according to the Associated Press.
The Justice Department has asked for the emergency stay so the plan could continue while the case heads to appeals courts. It is not clear how likely it is that the stay will be granted.
Mr Obama announced the immigration action on 20 November. The order would allow 4.7 million of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the US to stay in the country without fears of deportation. The president said his motive was to help the estimated 4.4 million illegal immigrants whose children are legal residents.
The immigration order has been met with strong opposition in the US, though Mr Hanen’s injunction is the strongest yet. The White House said it will appeal the action, which would go before the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
The injunction could impact debate in Congress over the funding of the Department of Homeland Security. The deadline for funding the department is 27 February and the Republican-controlled Congress has said it will pass a spending bill only if the immigration order was removed.
Debate is expected to heat up in Congress this week, as thousands of federal employees could be forced to work without pay if the government fails to fund Homeland Security. Mr Obama said a shutdown of the department would adversely impact the US economy.
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