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originally published by Politico

The federal judge who ruled in favor of red states to block President Barack Obama’s 2014 round of executive actions on immigration has rebuffed an effort by those same states to drop their litigation.

Judge Andrew Hanen, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, issued an order Friday rejecting a notice that Texas and 25 states filed Tuesdayseeking to dismiss the lawsuit they brought over Obama’s never-implemented Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, or DAPA. The program is intended to offer quasilegal status and work permits to illegal-immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents.

Some of those Republican-led states were considering using the suit as a vehicle to challenge the similar, better-known program for foreigners who entered the United States as children – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

However, those states backed down Tuesday after the Trump administration announced plans to wind down the DACA program starting in March.

Hanen’s decision doesn’t pose any immediate legal threat to the DACA program, and he didn’t rule out dismissing the pending case, which revolves around a set of executive actions that were never put into effect because of the litigation. However, he said a brief dismissal notice was not the right mechanism to dispose of a case that has been pending for nearly three years and traveled all the way to the Supreme Court.

It is not appropriate in a case which has had the extensive and hard-fought clashes over the merits that this one has, Hanen wrote. When the merits have been joined, and an injunction issued and affirmed on appeal twice, dismissal by notice is not appropriate. This Order does not presage any ultimate ruling should a different form of dismissal motion be filed.

Lawyers for the red states suggested the dismissal procedure was appropriate because no formal answer to the suit had been filed by the federal government, but the judge disagreed, saying that to hold otherwise would be to elevate form over substance and place undue emphasis on the title of a pleading rather than its substance.

A spokesman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Justice Department declined to comment.

At least two lawsuits have already been filed in other courts over President Donald Trump’s decision to end the DACA program. A group of 15 blue states and the District of Columbia filed suit Wednesday in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, and the University of California filed suit Friday in federal court in Northern California.

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