February 23, 2015 / 8:02 PM / 5 years ago

U.S. Justice Department asks for stay to allow immigration action

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department on Monday argued that halting President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration from taking effect threatens national security, in a request for an emergency stay to put on hold a Texas judge’s decision that temporarily blocked the actions.

The Department of Homeland Security would sustain “irreparable harm” if a stay is not granted, the Justice Department argued in its request.

The Obama administration is using a similar argument to push Congressional Republicans to fund the Department of Homeland Security, which they have threatened to shut down in order to block the immigration action.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued a court order last week to halt the immigration actions, which would grant temporary relief from deportation for 4.7 million people who are in the United States illegally.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the stalled immigration program would hold undocumented immigrants accountable for following the law and paying taxes rather than living in the shadows and effectively receiving amnesty for illegally crossing the border.

“Based on the judge’s ruling, we’re actually moving farther in the direction of amnesty,” Earnest said on Monday.

The Obama administration is also giving Hanen, who must approve the stay, an alternative of issuing a stay for every state but Texas, which he ruled would be harmed by the action, according to the court filing.

Officials also filed an appeal on Monday to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. (additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel)

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