Texas, July 11 (IANS/EFE) President Barack Obama’s administration tried again to convince the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to allow executive orders benefiting roughly 5 million undocumented immigrants to take effect.
The actions were blocked via a preliminary injunction handed down by US District Court Judge Andrew Hanen on February 16, and since then the Obama administration has sought to reverse that decision.
Last November, Obama expanded the population eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, programme, which was started in mid-2012 and has thus far has allowed more than 500,000 immigrants who came to the US as children to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation.
He also issued an order creating a new programme, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, that would allow some immigrants who are parents of US citizens and lawful permanent residents to apply for work permits and a reprieve from deportation.
Obama took these actions, neither of which provide a path to citizenship, after Congress did not pass a broad immigration overhaul bill last year.
Justice department attorneys argued on Friday before a panel of three judges — the Republican-appointed Jennifer Walker Elrod and Jerry Edwin Smith and the Democratic-appointed Carolyn Dineen King — that the actions were lawful and necessary to fix a “broken” immigration system.
But a coalition of 26 mostly Republican-led states, led by Texas, asked the judges to uphold the injunction handed down by Hanen, saying Obama had abused his presidential power.
In an earlier decision in May, Elrod and Smith rejected the administration’s request to lift the hold on the executive actions.
A study released last November by the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank, put the number of potential beneficiaries of DAPA and DACA at more than 5.2 million, or half of all unauthorised immigrants residing in the US.