Fifth Circuit sets immigration arguments for April 17

Credit: Jamie Dupree

A federal appeals court has set two hours of arguments next month on the Obama Administration's effort to lift an injunction against the President's executive actions on immigration, as the Fifth Circuit set hearings on the matter for April 17 in New Orleans.

"Each side will be allowed one hour," the court's clerk Lyle Cayce wrote in a memo to the Justice Department and a group of states led by Texas, which has challenged the President's move to grant a temporary legal status to some 4-5 million people now in the United States illegally.

Credit: Jamie Dupree

The schedule means that by the time the two sides assemble in New Orleans, the President's executive actions will have been on hold for two months.

The court also granted several GOP lawmakers, led by both Republicans from Texas - Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. John Cornyn - the right to file an amicus brief supporting an injunction against the President's plans.

On the other side, Washington, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia were allowed to file a brief backing the feds.

“The rule of law is at the very heart of our case against President Obama’s lawless immigration action," said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a written statement.

"We are a nation of laws, and we are proud to lead a bipartisan coalition of 26 states fighting this Administration’s unilateral and unconstitutional use of executive power," Paxton said.

DOJ nominee vows to follow court's decision

The issue of the legal battle over the President's executive actions came up on Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee, as Senators heard from President Obama's nominee to be deputy Attorney General.

Two GOP Senators, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, and Mike Lee of Utah, tried to ask nominee Sally Yates about her views on the immigration plan; she simply said the Justice Department would wait for the courts to rule.

"The Department of Justice is going to abide by that ruling, not just in Texas but across the country, unless and until a higher court reaches a different decision," Yates said, referring to the original injunction by a federal judge in south Texas that put the President's plans on hold.