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Arizona activists confident Obama’s immigration action will stand

PHOENIX — Immigrants in Arizona were irate Tuesday after a federal judge in Texas struck down President Barack Obama’s executive order that would have allowed many to stay in the country.

Valley immigration attorney Salvadore Ongaro said there are three problems with U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s decision.

“For one, the states do not have standing to request any sort of injunction and do not have any damages at this point,” he said. “Another is that it (the executive order) would be something that belongs to the federal government, and is not something that the states are involved in.

“The third is that this (the injunction) is not something that is permitted under the Administrative Procedures Act,” he said.

In a memorandum accompanying his order, Hanen said the lawsuit should go forward and that the states would “suffer irreparable harm in this case” without a preliminary injunction.

“The genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle,” he wrote, adding that he agreed that legalizing the presence of millions of people is a “virtually irreversible” action.

U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona) said the decision will be appealed.

“We are confident that this ruling will be overturned,” he said. “This judge is known as an extremist judge. He has consistently been overturned in the past. So do not, at any point, believe that we are not going to have success.”

Gallego said immigrants applying for deferred status should continue with their plans.

In a statement early Tuesday, the White House defended the executive orders issued in November as within the president’s legal authority, saying the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress have said federal officials can establish priorities in enforcing immigration laws.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department was reviewing the ruling and was confident the matter would ultimately be taken up by a higher court, possibly the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.