WashU Expert: Quick decision on immigration reform still possible

This week, a federal appeals court in Texas decided against allowing President Barack Obama’s controversial immigration plan to go into immediate effect, pending a review of the merits of the plan in July.

If implemented, Obama’s plan would provide temporary reprieves from deportation, and temporary work permits, for potentially up to 5 million immigrants living in the U.S. Twenty-six states sued to stop the plan. Fourteen states filed amicus briefs supporting the plan.

While the court’s decision is a temporary setback, it’s still possible that the government could win the overall appeal, said Washington University in St. Louis immigration expert Stephen H. Legomsky.

“The government appealed Judge (Andrew S.) Hanen’s injunction, but recognizing that appeals can take a long time to decide, the government asked the Court of Appeals if it would at least temporarily stay Judge Hanen’s decision until the court had a chance to decide the appeal,” he told Gwen Ifill on the PBS News Hour May 28.

Legomsky, JD, DPhil, is the John S. Lehmann University Professor at Washington University School of Law. He is former chief counsel of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and one of the nation’s leading authorities on immigration law.

“The panel that ultimately decides the appeal could well agree with the government’s position and reverse Judge Hanen’s injunction,” he told The New York Times May 26.

Courts in two other cases already have sided with the government. Ultimately, Legomsky said, the final decision is likely to rest with the Supreme Court.

In recent testimony before judiciary committees of both the U.S. House and the Senate, Legomsky explained why the president’s actions were well within his legal authority.

However, the timing is critical, he told The New York Times May 27.

“If the process drags on until the summer of 2016, then implementation becomes very difficult,” he said.

For more from Legomsky on the president’s immigration executive actions, visit law.wustl.edu.

For media interviews, Legomsky can be contacted by email at Legomsky@wulaw.wustl.edu or by cellphone at 314-779-4713.