Obama halts immigration amnesty push in court, bows to incoming Trump administration

President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)more >

The administration has already taken the first step to accommodate President-elect Trump’s positions, agreeing Friday to take a timeout on President Obama’s push to kick-start his 2014 deportation amnesty.

In documents filed with a federal judge in Texas the Justice Department said that in light of the new management that will take over next year, the case should be suspended.

“Accordingly, the parties respectfully submit that further proceedings on the merits of this case, including the submission of a schedule for resolving the merits, should be stayed until February 20, 2017,” the Justice Department and lawyers for Texas said in a joint request of Judge Andrew S. Hanen.

Judge Hanen had halted Mr. Obama’s expanded amnesty in February 2015, just two days before it was to go into effect, ruling that the administration broke administrative law. An appeals court twice upheld his injunction, as did the Supreme Court, in a 4-4 deadlock decision this summer.

The injunction remains in place while Judge Hanen was to hear full arguments — but both sides now say President-elect Trump should have the chance to weigh in.

“Given the change in Administration, the parties jointly submit that a brief stay of any further litigation in this Court before beginning any further proceedings would serve judicial efficiency and economy so that the parties have a better understanding of how they might choose to move forward,” both sides said.

Judge Hanen would still have to consent to staying the proceedings.

The amnesty would apply to more than 4 million illegal immigrants who were either brought to the U.S. as children, or who were parents of American citizens or legal immigrants.

Under the Obama program, they were to be granted tentative legal status for three years, preventing them from being deported and entitling them to work permits, which would in turn earn them driver’s licenses and some taxpayer benefits.

Mr. Obama had for years said he lacked the power to issue such a blanket amnesty, but discovered the power after his party suffered massive losses in the 2014 election.

The amnesty was declared not be executive order, but rather by a series of memos from the Homeland Security secretary.

Judge Hanen ruled the amnesty violated the Administrative Procedure Act because it was a major policy change that should have been put out for public review and comment. The appeals court went further, ruling Mr. Obama broke immigration law, which never envisioned so broad a use of “deferred action” powers.

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