Fifth Circuit Ruling Upholds Injunction Against the President’s Executive Actions on Immigration

Maria del Carmen Ramos
Maria del Carmen Ramos

In a 2-1 ruling, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen on the grounds that the lawsuit filed by a coalition of 26 states opposing the implementation of the President’s Executive Actions was likely to succeed at trial. See State of Texas v. U.S., No. 15-40238 (5th Cir. Nov. 9 2015). In its ruling, the Court also suggested that President Obama has exceeded his authority by using the program to grant benefits without a congressional mandate.

As background, a coalition of 26 states (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, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin) sued the U.S. government in Brownsville, Texas as a result of the President’s Execution Actions on Immigration. Led by Texas, the coalition of states contends that the executive actions on immigration are unconstitutional and would require the states to invest more in law enforcement, health care, and education.

Specifically, the Fifth Circuit held that Texas had standing to bring the lawsuit because it would be harmed by new costs for issuing driver’s licenses to immigrants. The Court also noted that the President’s executive actions would undercut the will of Congress and stated, “Congress did not intend to make immune from judicial review an agency action that reclassified millions of illegal aliens in a way that imposes substantial costs on states.”

Because the Fifth Circuit is largely seen as fairly conservative, legal experts speculated that it was highly unlikely to rule in favor of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The question now becomes whether the DOJ will appeal the Fifth Circuit’s decision. Political and legal analysts speculate that the ruling may have come in time to allow the DOJ to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court for consideration next year. But, even if the Supreme Court were to overturn the Fifth Circuit’s ruling, the decision would not resolve the substantive issues raised in the lawsuit. The DOJ’s appeal simply addressed whether Judge Hanen’s preliminary injunction was appropriate and not the merits of the underlying case.

Continue to check back with us for the status of this important immigration matter. For more information, please contact Maria del Carmen Ramos at 813.227.2252 or

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