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A federal judge in South Texas on Monday temporarily blocked President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, giving a coalition of 26 states time to pursue a lawsuit that aims to permanently stop the orders.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s decision comes after a hearing in Brownsville in January and puts on hold Obama’s orders that could spare as many as five million people who are in the U.S. illegally from deportation.
“The genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle,” he wrote, adding that he agreed with the plaintiffs’ argument that legalizing the presence of millions of people is a “virtually irreversible” action.
The White House in a statement early Tuesday defended the executive orders issued in November as within the president’s legal authority, saying that the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress have said federal officials can set priorities in enforcing immigration laws.
“The district court’s decision wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect and the Department of Justice has indicated that it will appeal that decision,” the statement said. An appeal would be heard by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
The first of Obama’s orders – to expand a program that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children – was set to start taking effect Wednesday. The other major part of Obama’s order, which extends deportation protections to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for some years, was not expected to begin until May 19.
Joaquin Guerra, political director of Texas Organizing Project, called the ruling a “temporary setback.”
“We will continue getting immigrants ready to apply for administrative relief,” he said in a statement.
The coalition of states, led by Texas and made up of mostly conservative states in the South and Midwest, argues that Obama has violated the “Take Care Clause” of the U.S. Constitution, which they say limits the scope of presidential power. They also say the order will force increased investment in law enforcement, health care and education.
In their request for the injunction, the coalition said it was necessary because it would be “difficult or impossible to undo the President’s lawlessness after the Defendants start granting applications for deferred action.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the decision a “victory for the rule of law in America” in a statement late Monday. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who as the state’s former attorney general led the state into the lawsuit, said Hanen’s decision “rightly stops the President’s overreach in its tracks.”
Hanen, who’s been on the federal court since 2002 after being nominated by President George W. Bush, regularly handles border cases but wasn’t known for being outspoken on immigration until a 2013 case. In an order in that case, Hanen suggested the Homeland Security Department should be arresting parents living in the U.S. illegally who induce their children to cross the border illegally.
Congressional Republicans have vowed to block Obama’s actions by cutting off Homeland Security Department spending for the program. Earlier this year, the Republican-controlled House passed a $39.7 billion spending bill to fund the department through the end of the budget year, but attached language to undo Obama’s executive actions. The fate of that House-passed bill is unclear as Republicans in the Senate do not have the 60-vote majority needed to advance most legislation.
Among those supporting Obama’s executive order is a group of 12 mostly liberal states, including Washington and California, as well as the District of Columbia. They filed a motion with Hanen in support of Obama, arguing the directives will substantially benefit states and will further the public interest.
A group of law enforcement officials, including the Major Cities Chiefs Association and more than 20 police chiefs and sheriffs from across the country, also filed a motion in support, arguing the executive action will improve public safety by encouraging cooperation between police and individuals with concerns about their immigration status.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu lost her Senate runoff race Saturday night, felled by the red tide that’s swept the South and ties to an unpopular President that she couldn’t shake. Landrieu’s Republican opponent Rep. Bill Cassidy won easily meaning Republicans have picked up nine Senate seats this election cycle and will have control of 54 seats in the chamber next year.
Once seen as Democrats’ strongest incumbent, Landrieu ended up such a long-shot in her runoff with Cassidy that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee cut its investment in the state, a move that Landrieu decried as leaving “a soldier on the field.”
In her concession speech, Landrieu touted her own “record of courage, honesty and integrity and delivering for the state when it mattered the most.”
The senator also said she didn’t regret her vote for Obamacare, which the GOP used to attack her and every other vulnerable Democratic senator this cycle.
“This is something to be proud of, and I’m glad we fought for it,” she said, touting some of the benefits of the law.
“Shake it Off,” Taylor Swift’s pop anthem to moving past defeat and ignoring critics, played as Landrieu hugged the staff and family members gathered on the stage.
And tears could be seen throughout the crowd as the event wound down on Saturday night.
An energetic Cassidy, meanwhile, opened his victory speech with a surprised, “whoa!” He told his supporters his win was the “exclamation point” on the declaration that “we want our country to go in a conservative direction,” which was made with the GOP’s resounding wins on Nov. 4.
He was introduced at his victory party by GOP Sen. David Vitter, who endorsed the congressman and has been active in the race for him. And Cassidy was joined on stage by his onetime GOP foe in the race, retired Air Force colonel Rob Maness, who ran as a conservative alternative to him during the first round of voting but endorsed him in the runoff.
Landrieu ran hard through the very end, insisting even Saturday morning, outside the school where she cast her ballot, that there was still a shot.
Landrieu’s campaign pitch centered around her clout in the Senate, and what she can do for the state in Washington. But that argument lost much of its potency on Nov. 4, when Democrats lost the Senate and Landrieu could no longer tout a committee chairmanship.
And Landrieu was never able to effectively localize the race and distance herself from the president, while Republicans tied her to him at every opportunity.
Indeed, even Landrieu’s supporters seemed to know it was over before Election Night.
Cassidy ran a largely error-free, if exceptionally safe, campaign. He held infrequent campaign stops during the runoff and stayed entirely out of the state for the final week of the runoff, returning only for a Monday debate and two rallies Friday.
The Republican National Committee had around 300 staffers in the state and used the runoff period as a testing ground for field and data methods. Republicans wanted, they said, to put an “exclamation mark” on their wins on Nov. 4.
Republicans matched their party’s post-World War II record for most House seats held Saturday night by retaining two Louisiana constituencies also in runoff votes.
The GOP holds 246 seats, compared to 188 for Democrats, with one race, in Arizona’s 2nd District, still outstanding. The 246 seats match the total the GOP had in 1947-49 when Harry S. Truman occupied the White House.
In the midterm election rout, House Republicans prevailed on Democratic turf, netting 12 seats and winning in New York, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire and Iowa. Republican challengers knocked out long-term Democratic incumbents in Georgia and West Virginia, seats that the GOP now could hold for generations as the party maintains its stranglehold on the South.
The GOP had entered the Nov. 4 midterm elections with a 234-201 edge. Democrats had held out hope of minimizing their losses despite Obama’s low popularity and historic losses for the party occupying the White House. Democrats did manage to win three Republican-held seats in California, Florida and Nebraska, but Republicans had far greater success around the country.
Obama suffered an ignominious distinction. His party lost 63 seats in 2010 and then 12 more this year, and he is now the two-term president with the most midterm defeats, edging past Truman’s 74.
There’s still an automatic recount in a Democratic-held district in the Tucson, Arizona-area. Rep. Ron Barber trails Republican challenger Martha McSally by fewer than 200 voters.
If McSally wins, Republicans would have 247 seats, the largest majority since 1929-31 when the GOP controlled 270 seats in President Herbert Hoover’s administration.
Clinton, the former secretary of state and frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, has committed to play a sizable role in fundraising for the party ahead of the 2014 elections, according to sources and aides for different campaign groups.
In addition to campaigning for specific candidates, aides to Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Governors Association confirmed that Clinton will headline fundraisers for each respective group in 2014.
Clinton is also slated to headline one of the most anticipated events of the year in Democratic politics in Iowa Senator Tom Harkin’s Iowa Steak Fry on September 14.
Sen. Harkin’s team announced Monday that Clinton along with her husband former President Bill Clinton will headline the fundraiser in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. The steak fry regularly draws big-name, national politicians and is seen as a required stop for any Democrat seeking the presidency.
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill also said that the former secretary of state will do more in Iowa than just attend the steak fry.
“She’s looking forward to campaigning for her Democratic friends and colleagues and to helping the effort to move America forward, including a stop to see her old friend and colleague Senator Harkin to help raise money for important races in Iowa,” Merrill said in a statement.
In addition, a DCCC source also said Clinton will fundraiser for the congressional campaign committee, including a women’s event in San Francisco with Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“We’re thrilled and grateful that she is lending her support to our shared goal of electing a Democratic House of Representatives that will put a stop to the endless cycle of dysfunction and shutdowns from this Republican Congress,” Chairman Steve Israel said in a statement.
Since leaving the State Department in 2013, Clinton has largely tried to stay out of politics. Other than campaigning for candidates with whom she has a personal relationship including Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and her daughters mother-in-law Clinton hasn’t done any political fundraising.
But as likelihood of Clinton running for president in 2016 rises, political committees and groups have stepped started to ask Clinton for help in the 2014 midterms.
In April, while at an American Jewish Committee forum, Israel spoke with Clinton about what she is willing to do around the midterms.
According to Israel, Clinton said, ” I want to help,” to which Steve Israel said, “Not the minute, but the second you are ready to help, you let me know.”
Democrats have an uphill climb to taking back the House, and recent polling show the fight to keep Democratic control of the Senate will be close.
In an interview Israel said he saw Clinton as able to go into a number of different states, but especially Illinois, California, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania and Arkansas.
“Her appeal is so broad. She excites our base. There are few people stronger than she is with swing voters,” Israel said, listing Clinton attributes as a fundraiser and endorser.
It was widely assumed that Clinton would campaign for Democrats in 2014. The cadre of groups organizing around her possible 2016 bid particularly Ready for Hillary have tried to help midterm Democrats, and Priorities USA a super PAC supporting her 2016 run has told donors to focus on the midterms for now.
In July, Clinton told a Southern California public radio station that she is “committed” to helping midterms Democrats.
“I strongly am committed to doing what I can to keep the Senate in Democratic hands,” she said.