HOUSTON >> A court hearing has been set for April 17 on whether a temporary hold on President Barack Obama’s immigration executive action should be lifted, a federal appeals court announced Tuesday.
Obama’s executive actions, which could spare from deportation as many as 5 million people who are in the U.S. illegally, were put on hold by a preliminary injunction issued last month by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, Texas.
The injunction was issued at the request of a coalition of 26 states that filed a lawsuit to overturn Obama’s immigration plan. The states, led by Texas, argue Obama’s action was unconstitutional.
The Justice Department earlier this month filed an emergency motion with the 5th Circuit, asking it to lift Hanen’s preliminary injunction, arguing the order interferes with the Homeland Security Department’s ability to protect the country and "secure our borders."
The 26 states, led by Texas, say they will suffer irreversible economic harm if the injunction is lifted.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said each side will have an hour to make their arguments about the injunction during the April hearing.
The scheduling of the hearing was part of a court order that granted a request by the Justice Department to expedite its appeal of Hanen’s Feb. 16 ruling.
The Justice Department had asked Hanen to lift the injunction while the case was appealed to the 5th Circuit. But Hanen put that request on hold until he heard from federal prosecutors about allegations that the U.S. government had misled him about the implementation of part of the immigration plan.
During a court hearing last week, a Justice Department attorney apologized to Hanen for any confusion about how more than 108,000 people received three-year reprieves from deportation before the judge made a decision on the injunction.
Hanen has yet to decide if he will issue sanctions against the Justice Department if he decides that the U.S. government had begun implementing an expansion of a program that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
The other states seeking to block Obama’s orders are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.