NEW ORLEANS, May 26 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama's plan to grant legal status to some 5 million people received a major blow Tuesday when an appeals court upheld a hold on the execute action pending the outcome of lawsuit brought by 26 states.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans upheld the injunction put in place by a federal district judge in Brownsville, Texas.
Less than a month after Obama announced his plan in November, which he called a "comprehensive fix" to the country's immigration system, then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (now governor) led a group of states asking for a block to the order.
The appeals court, with a vote of 2-1, said the states had legal grounds to file the lawsuit to overturn Obama's executive order.
"Because the government is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its appeal of the injunction, we deny the motion for stay and the request to narrow the scope of the injunction," Circuit Judge Jerry Smith wrote in the opinion.
The driver's licenses Texas alone would have to issue under the immigration initiatives and the costs the state would incur "constitute a cognizable injury," he wrote.
Circuit Judge Stephen Higginson, an Obama appointee, dissented, saying immigration should be decided by the political branches, not courts.
"The political nature of this dispute is clear," he said. "The order in which non-citizens without documentation must be removed from the United States must be decided, presently is being decided, and always has been decided by the federal branches