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Feds halting preparations for challenged immigration program
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Homeland Security Department will cease preparations for a program intended to protect millions of immigrants from deportation in the wake of a federal court ruling halting it, Secretary Jeh Johnson said Tuesday.

Johnson said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will stop working on plans to launch a program to protect parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents from deportation until further notice.

Late Monday U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas temporarily blocked the program and a second effort to shield young immigrants from deportation as part of an ongoing lawsuit involving 26 states.

USCIS, the Homeland Security agency responsible for managing immigration benefits cases, was scheduled to start accepting applications for an expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on Wednesday. The effort to protect immigrant parents living in the country illegally was to start in May.

President Barack Obama announced the protection programs shortly after November's midterm election. Republican lawmakers have argued that the efforts amount to amnesty for millions of immigrants living in the country illegally.

The programs have become a sticking point in an ongoing budget battle involving the Homeland Security Department. The agency's funding is set to expire on Feb. 27.