U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen granted a preliminary injunction to block the implementation of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration – specifically the DAPA program and his expansion of DACA - until he decides on their legality. Constitutional scholars are going to be writing about this for the near future (I recommend reading Josh Blackman’s comments here and our Cato brief here) and the appeals will come quickly. In the midst of this lively debate, the political and policy consequences of Judge Hanen’s ruling should not be ignored.
The political consequences could be immediate. Speaker Boehner could use this moment of GOP “victory” to pass a clean DHS funding bill as he hides behind the preliminary injunction. It could tone down the intensity of the political debate on Capitol Hill now that the courts will decide DACA/DAPA’s future. The GOP does not have the votes to force the Democrats to accept defunding either of those programs. This preliminary injunction allows Speaker Boehner to stop the DACA/DAPA defund fight while claiming some victory and avoiding the defeat he seems to be preparing for. Now he can leave it to the courts with some confidence, more than he is likely to be feeling right in the DHS defunding fight, that they will rule in the GOP’s favor in a few weeks. Regardless, this provides an opportunity for Boehner to skip the bruising DHS funding fight without suffering a political rout.