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WASHINGTON -- Arkansas' Congressional delegation and attorney general on Tuesday praised a ruling by a Texas judge temporarily halting President Barack Obama's executive order on immigration.

Monday's order from Judge Andrew Hanen of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Brownsville prohibits the administration from carrying out programs that would protect from deportation up to 5 million people who are in the country illegally.

Applications for one of the deferred deportation programs had been set to open today.

Arkansas is one of 26 states involved in a lawsuit challenging the president's executive order. In a statement, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge called the decision an "important victory."

The administration plans to appeal, White House spokesmen said Tuesday, a move praised by Arkansas United Community Coalition, an Arkansas group that has advocated for an overhaul of the country's immigration system.

Several members of Arkansas' all-Republican delegation said the president overstepped his authority in crafting the policy.

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Dardanelle said in a statement that the ruling is an important first step, and he thinks the order will be upheld.

"President Obama's immigration executive order is a stunning display of arrogance and disregard for our Constitution and must be stopped," Cotton said.

In a statement, U.S. Sen. John Boozman of Rogers agreed. "The decision echoes what we have been saying all along: the President simply does not have the authority to thwart the rule of law. This decision verifies that when he moved from enforcement discretion to simply ignoring the law, President Obama clearly overstepped his authority," he said.

Both senators said the order validates Republican efforts to cut off funding for the programs through the Department of Homeland Security's budget, a move Senate Democrats have blocked.

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers said in a statement the ruling "reaffirms what the President said 22 times: he does not have the authority to legislate from the Oval Office and take these unilateral actions on immigration."

U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock said the move is a win for the separation of powers.

"The court confirmed something that many of us already knew: the President's eagerness to bypass Congress lacks any actual legal foundation," he said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs said in a statement, "The judge's ruling in Texas confirms what we have known for far too long -- our president is acting against the Constitution he took an oath to uphold."

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro said the ruling wasn't a surprise.

"I think Judge Hanen's decision to block the administration's unilateral actions on immigration will at the very least force the President to further explain to the American people why he chose this route instead of acting to first secure our borders against those who wish to do us harm," he said in a statement.

Arkansas United Community Coalition Executive Director Mireya Reith urged people who might qualify to continue preparing to apply. Half of the estimated 60,000 illegal immigrants in Arkansas could qualify for one of the deferred deportation programs, the coalition has found.

"This is just the first round in a long, drawn out legal process. Hundreds of legal scholars agree that the President's executive action on immigration are constitutional and within his authority," she said in a statement.

"We are confident that the court system will eventually reject this merit-less lawsuit that only wastes taxpayer dollars, confuses and ultimately disenfranchises immigrant workers and families, and robs much needed revenue from our state economy."

Metro on 02/18/2015

Print Headline: State's 6 in D.C. applaud halting of Obama order

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