The Skinny

Border Order

A federal judge has blocked Obama's executive actions on immigration as a shutdown of Homeland Security looms

A federal judge in Texas last week stopped the Obama Administration's plan to move forward with new programs designed to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation.

U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen of Brownsville ruled in favor of a consortium of 26 states, including Arizona, that argued they would suffer irreparable harm if President Barack Obama's recent executive actions on immigration were allowed to proceed.

Hanen's decision stopped the White House from starting to process applications for an expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which is designed to shield from deportation young adults brought to the United States as children by their parents.

The Obama Administration filed an appeal to the 5th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals.

"The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that the federal government can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws—which is exactly what the President did when he announced commonsense policies to help fix our broken immigration system," a White House statement reads. "Those policies are consistent with the laws passed by Congress and decisions of the Supreme Court, as well as five decades of precedent by presidents of both parties who have used their authority to set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws."

Congresswoman Martha McSally (R-CD2) cheered Hanen's ruling blocking executive action.

"The President himself has already said he doesn't have the authority to unilaterally change immigration laws, and today's ruling confirms that," she said in a prepared statement.

But Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-CD3) dismissed the lawsuit as "nothing more than a political stunt" that was "shopped around by Attorneys General and governors intent on undermining the president's efforts. The fact that they found a judge in Texas with a pre-disposition against the President and immigrant communities does not grant merit to their misguided causes."

Does the president have legal authority to do what he did? From time to time, as he tried to push Congress to take action, he himself said his powers in this arena were limited. Now he and his lawyers say he's on solid legal ground.

Meanwhile, Congress remained deadlocked over funding for the Department of Homeland Security. At the rate things were progressing as of our Tuesday deadline, there didn't seem to be much movement in D.C. to stop at least a partial DHS shutdown because House Republicans had tied a freeze of both the DACA program for DREAM Act kids and the Obama Administration's extended deferred deportation program to the funding of the agency.

The DHS budget extension stalled in the Senate after Democrats blocked the legislation, but even some Republicans are unhappy with the bill. Both of Arizona's Republican senators have said that tying DHS funding to overturning the executive actions was the wrong approach.

Sen. John McCain told "Meet the Press" that the work of the Department of Homeland Security was "too serious" to be tied up with the politics of the immigration battle. And Sen. Jeff Flake said on the Senate floor that blocking the executive actions via a spending bill "is not a good move in my view."

"I believe that rather than poke the president in the eye, we ought to put legislation on his desk," Flake added.

But whether House Republicans will budge remains to be seen. McSally spokesman Patrick Ptak didn't get back to the Weekly before deadline about whether McSally would support a clean funding bill that didn't include amendments to block the executive actions. McSally voted for the original legislation, saying that Obama's executive actions threatened the nation's constitutional principals and it was "critical that Congress, as the direct representation of the people, stand up for those principles."

It's Betsy Bolding Day!

Pima County Supervisors honor a longtime community hero

Congrats to Betsy Bolding, an all-around force for good in our community, on her impending retirement from her gig as Tucson Electric Power's manager of consumer affairs.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors honored Bolding last week by declaring this Sunday, March 1, to be "Betsy Bolding Day" because she has "dedicated herself to the betterment of Pima County."

Bolding has been with TEP for nearly two decades, but before that, she spent eight years running the Tucson office when Bruce Babbitt was governor from '78 to '86.

Astoundingly, Bolding's friends managed to get her to the Board of Supes meeting on last Tuesday, Feb. 17, without her realizing what was afoot. (Guess she doesn't pore over those meeting agendas every week.)

Bolding remained both embarrassed and humbled throughout the ceremony, insisting there was much more important business the board should be attending to as her proclamation—along with a letter from Bruce Babbitt, the former Arizona governor and interior secretary—was read aloud to the crowd.

Bolding, the proclamation noted, was "An Arizonan by birth and a Tucsonan by choice."

"Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel" airs every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on KGUN-9. This week's scheduled guests are Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Lea Marquez Peterson and Pima County Democratic Party Chairwoman Cheryl Cage.