Ed. Note: There’s at least one Federal judge who has learned his lesson about taking Department of Justice lawyers’ word. Calling himself an “idiot” for believing them, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hansen won’t be likely to make that mistake again. Republished from San Antonio Express-News, by Aaron Nelsen, March 19, 2015.
LOCAL BROWNSVILLE — A federal judge here raised the specter of sanctions against the U.S. government on Thursday as he gave a tonguelashing to lawyers for the Obama administration for misleading him about a new immigration program at the center of a national lawsuit.
You said it’s not happening,” U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen said, referring to the program. “And like an idiot I believed that.”
In January, Justice Department lawyers had assured Hanen that President Barack Obama’s directive to shield up NEWS Federal judge upbraids government lawyers, raises specter of sanctions He was misled by lawyers
In January, Justice Department lawyers had assured Hanen that President Barack Obama’s directive to shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation was not being put into effect while a lawsuit filed by 26 states against the administration moved through the courts.
But this month, the U.S. government admitted it granted 108,000 immigrants, who already were protected from deportation, three-year renewals of their deferred status, instead of two years. The threeyear deferrals are one aspect of the new program that’s under dispute.
In February, Hanen granted the 26 states a preliminary injunction halting the new immigration program, which Obama had put in place through executive action Nov. 20.
Those states, led by Texas, contend Justice Department lawyers misled Hanen about the threeyear extensions given in the months before Hanen put the immigration plan on hold. They’re also challenging the overall constitutionality of the new program.
In 2012, Obama started Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, providing a twoyear reprieve from deportation and a work permit for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants. Under the new program, encompassing an estimated 5 million immigrants, more young people and some parents of children born in the U.S. or permanent legal residents couldqualify for work permits and protection from deportation for three years.
The Homeland Security Department was to begin taking applications for the expanded DACA program Feb. 18, while the part for parents was scheduled to start this spring.
In the coming days, Hanen will rule on a motion that would enable the states suing the government to question the administration about its recent actions on immigration, and whether to issue sanctions against the government.
While it’s unclear what bearing Thursday’s proceedings will have on the overarching lawsuit, a visibly irritated Hanen took the opportunity to upbraid the Justice Department lawyers and question how trustworthy the administration would be on other matters.
“I can trust what the president says?” Hanen pointedly asked a department lawyer. “That’s a yes-or-no question.”
Justice Department lawyer Kathleen Hartnett said the U.S. government regretted the confusion, explaining it had been focused on addressing the irreparable harm alleged in the lawsuit, adding immediate steps were taken to stop renewing deferred deportations for three years as soon as Hanen issued his temporary injunction.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has said the most pressing issue is the extent to which the Obama administration issued longer work permits to immigrants.
“In light of the complexity of this entire program, we need some time and not just the word of a few attorneys from the Department of Justice,” said Angela Colmenero, assistant attorney general for Texas, speaking for the plaintiff states.
On the matter of possible sanctions, Hanen noted the burden of paying any damages would fall to the very states and taxpayers suing the government.
In a possible glimpse of how the judge ultimately may rule on Obama’s policies, Hanen questioned why the government’s deferred deportation program had to include benefits, such as driver licenses and work permits for undocumented immigrants.
“Why can’t you have people come forward without giving them the benefits? We’re basically bribing people to stay in the country illegally,” he said.
He’ll issue a ruling soon on the plaintiff states’ discovery motion. Meanwhile, the main venue will shift to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, as the federal government challenges Hanen’s temporary halt to the new program.
Ed. Note: Republished from San Antonio Express-News. CLICK HERE to read the original.
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