A fight is heating up in the courts and in Congress over President Obama's executive order to protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation.

The Justice Dept. on Feb. 23 sought a stay of a federal judge's injunction, issued one week earlier, that temporarily blocked the directives that Obama issued last Nov. 20 from going into effect.

On Capitol Hill, Senate Democrats stalled action on a House-passed Dept. of Homeland Security spending bill, objecting to a provision barring implementation of Obama's immigration plan. Obama has threatened to veto any bill that would include the House's immigration language. Unless Congress approves further appropriations, DHS funding is set to expire on Feb. 27.

Construction groups generally support comprehensive immigration reform, but the tussle over the DHS bill doesn't bode well for other immigration legislation. Jim Young, Associated General Contractors of America director of congressional relations, says the court battle over the president's actions also will only further delay efforts to enact a wide- ranging immigration measure.

Texas and 25 other states sued the administration shortly after Obama announced the new policies. Federal District Judge Andrew Hanen issued the injunction on Feb. 16. The Justice Dept. asked for a stay, contending that DHS would face "irreparable harm" if it is unable to establish enforcement priorities for its immigration deportation policies. Justice also filed an emergency appeal.

Obama's directives, the first of which were to take effect on Feb. 18, would let illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria apply to stay deportation temporarily under a new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program or an expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The programs would allow immigrants to defer deportation and seek work authorization for three years.

DHS Secretary Jeh C. Johnson on Feb. 17 said he "strongly disagreed" with Hanen's injunction but added that, "in the meantime, we recognize we must comply with it." Johnson noted, however, that the injunction does not affect the existing DACA program, which enables individuals to request an initial deportation deferral or renewal along guidelines set in 2012.

Congressional response to Hanen's decision divided generally along party lines. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, "The president said 22 times he did not have the authority to take the very action on immigration he eventually did, so it is no surprise that at least one court has agreed." Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, "It's perfectly appropriate to take this issue to court but is completely unacceptable for Republicans to hold up funding for [DHS] while the case wends its way through the legal system."