By Julia Edwards
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department will seek an emergency stay to block a decision by a federal judge and allow eligible immigrants to apply for benefits granted under President Obama's executive action, the White House said on Friday.
Immigration advocates have called on the administration to take legal action to reverse the injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen that halted the issuance of work permits to eligible immigrants one day before the program's launch.
But seeking a stay comes with added headaches for the Obama administration.
Hanen must approve the stay and the Justice Department is concerned he could drag his feet or deny it.
Delaying a decision could keep the administration from filing an appeal in the 5th Circuit, where the decision would be taken out of Hanen's hands.
Approximately 4.7 million undocumented immigrants are expected to be granted relief from deportation under the program if it is allowed to go through.
The Justice Department will file paperwork to seek a stay by Monday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
(Reporting by Julia Edwards; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Eric Beech)