The Obama White House may be preoccupied with trying to figure out how best to water down Middle Eastern conflicts into mere questions of unemployment, and busy putting together the first lady’s schedule for her whirlwind round of vacations ahead of retirement, but they’ll also have to scramble their lawyer corps this morning, as a federal district court judge in Texas has issued a temporary injunction on Barack Obama’s executive amnesty order.

The order will halt execution of any of the program’s initiatives, some of which were scheduled to start this week. It could yet be stayed by the Fifth Circuit (even by tonight, if things move really quickly), but for now, the administration will need to come up with a Plan B.

A federal judge in Texas has ordered a halt, at least temporarily, to President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, siding with Texas and 25 other states that filed a lawsuit opposing the initiatives.

In an order filed on Monday, the judge, Andrew S. Hanen of Federal District Court in Brownsville, prohibited the Obama administration from carrying out programs the president announced in November that would offer protection from deportation and work permits to as many as five million undocumented immigrants.

The first of those programs was scheduled to start receiving applications on Wednesday and the immediate impact of the ruling is that up to 270,000 undocumented immigrants nationwide who came to the United States as children will not be able to apply for deportation protection under an expansion of an existing executive program. A larger new program is scheduled to begin in May.

Of course, the federal government has probably already filed the necessary paperwork to put an injunction on this injunction, but I suspect that this case, which involves 25 separate states, was filed in Texas, and below the Fifth Circuit for a reason. The Fifth generally leans conservative – legally, not necessarily politically speaking – and beyond that, once the law’s provisions go into effect, it’s much harder to “right the wrongs” presented by an executive order without rolling back the benefits the order has already conferred. We call that, in the legal business, “irreparable harm.”

The nice part about this ruling is that, while Judge Hanen, at least according to the New York Times, does lean conservative in his rulings, his temporary injunction doesn’t touch on the question of whether the executive branch violated its constitutional boundaries, but whether DHS created a whole new program and a set of associated procedures without following the administration’s own rules. The administration, which responded in a statement yesterday, says they totally talked to this one lawyer who said he knew exactly what he was talking about and they’re definitely within their rights, so nyah.

At any rate, even if it is just temporary, the order itself is pretty fun to read if you have a while.

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