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Federal judge temporarily blocks new immigration order

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Posted at 9:44 PM, Feb 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-17 23:44:06-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants are left in legal limbo Tuesday after a federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration.

The President's immigration action has drawn opposition from 26 states across the country, including Utah.

The White House says it will comply with the injunction as it appeals the decision.

Some of the provisions would have gone into effect Wednesday, allowing many undocumented immigrants to apply for work permits and

legal protection.

Many Republicans have called the President's executive action unconstitutional and see the judge's injunction as a win.

Meanwhile, immigration activists say it's a bump in the road that has big implications.

Gregory Lucero with Raices en Utah said, "It is absolutely a political ploy. They are playing games with immigrants' lives."

Lucero said he's very much against this temporary halt to secure the safety and citizenship of millions of immigrants.

"Both sides are using undocumented people as political chips and it's unconscionable," he said.

Longtime Latino activist Archie Archuleta told FOX 13 this injunction is re-awakening deep-rooted fears within Utah's Latino community as thousands continue to live in limbo.

"The fear factor is something that really destroys people's ability to think in terms of the long range so here we are once more waiting for the ax to drop," Archuleta said.

Still, others believe this is a sign that the anti-Latino sentiment is very much alive across the country.

Nate Salazar, chair of the Salt Lake County Hispanic Democratic Caucus said, "It takes us to a place where only a certain few or only a select few of people who talk a certain way or look a certain way are eligible for something like citizenship, unlike the countless of generations of people beforehand throughout the history of our country were eligible for."

Some of Utah's leaders, however, agree with the judge's decision.

Attorney General Sean Reyes issued a statement that reads, in part, "We did not join this lawsuit to address immigration policy. Whether you agree or disagree with some, all or none of the President's proposal is not the point. The process of how President Obama overstepped his legal authority is what is being challenged.”

Other Utah legislators like Rep. Chris Steward echoed similar opinions. He said, "I’m very pleased with today’s court ruling, as it reaffirms the roles of the branches of our government... President Obama’s immigration actions threaten the constitutional balance of powers our founding fathers established.”

The first part of President Obama's executive order was to expand protection from deportation for the so-called "dreamers." Those are immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally when they were kids.

The other major part would extend those same protections to parents of U.S. citizens and residents who have lived in the U.S. for some years. That portion of the executive order was not expected to begin until mid-May.