Cruz: Judge's order a 'turning point' in immigration fight
© Greg Nash

A federal judge's order halting President Obama's unilateral actions on immigration represents a "turning point" in the fight, Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSunday Talk Shows: Lawmakers look ahead to House vote on articles of impeachment, Senate trial The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 Democrats trading jabs ahead of Los Angeles debate Senate Republicans air complaints to Trump administration on trade deal MORE (R-Texas) said Tuesday.

The Tea Party favorite and potential 2016 contender hailed the decision as a "major victory for the rule of law" and a blow to the constitutionality of Obama's executive actions.

ADVERTISEMENT

"The president has put Senate Democrats in an impossible position politically," Cruz said in an interview with conservative radio host Mark Levin. 

After the judge's ruling, Democrats will be positioned "to force implementation of conduct by the president that the federal court has concluded is illegal," Cruz added. 

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen late Monday issued a temporary injunction against Obama's orders, ruling Texas and 25 other states that sued the administration would "suffer irreparable harm" from the president's immigration actions. 

The court move upended the debate over funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

DHS, the primary agency tasked with implementing Obama's November action to shield up to 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation and also offer work visas, is currently funded through Feb. 27. The agency will shut down without a new funding bill.

Republicans are seeking to defund the immigration programs. But Senate Democrats have repeatedly blocked a House-passed bill doing so, insisting on a "clean" funding measure for DHS.

It is still unclear how the federal judge's order Monday will alter the debate.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Obama are slated to meet Wednesday afternoon, and DHS funding is expected to be a high priority, though the White House has not disclosed their agenda. 

Obama said Tuesday afternoon that he was confident his actions were within his executive authority even as DHS suspended its operations to begin accepting new applications for deportation deferrals Wednesday.

The White House is weighing its response to the court ruling, including potentially asking another court to nullify the ruling. The Justice Department is expected to appeal the decision.

"I think that appeal will work its way through the system," Cruz told Levin. "In the Senate, it will come down to the Democrats and [whether they are] willing to blink."

Cruz, a potential 2016 presidential contender, accused Senate Democrats of "playing games."

Another Republican moving toward a White House bid, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, took a more cautious approach to the ruling Tuesday, saying Obama "overstepped his executive authority and, in turn, hurt the effort toward a commonsense immigration solution."