Judge says government lawyers misled him on immigration actions
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WASHINGTON, April 8, 2015 - A Texas federal judge who blocked the Obama administration's executive actions on immigration is refusing to stay the decision and accused government lawyers of misleading him about when the orders were first implemented.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen on Feb. 16 ordered the administration not to process applications for two initiatives, including one to expand an earlier program for children of illegal immigrants and called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).Government officials had told the judge that the new DACA application process wouldn't start until Feb. 18, two days after he filed his order staying the initiatives. But the attorneys acknowledged in a March 3 court filing that more than 100,000 applications were actually processed under the new, more generous rules last fall.
In an order filed late Tuesday, the judge scolded the administration for failing to reveal those applications earlier, and he directed the administration to turn over all of its internal emails and all other documents related to the March 3 disclosure.
“Whether by ignorance, omission, purposeful misdirection, or because they were misled by their clients, the attorneys for the Government misrepresented the facts,” the judge wrote. “The Court, relying on counsels' representations, not only gave the Government extra time for its briefing, but it also took February 18, 2015, as the agreed-upon date by which to rule on the motion for a temporary injunction.”
The judge stopped short of tossing out the government's pleadings in the lawsuit, saying he didn't want to cut short the case, but he didn't rule out possible sanctions. The administration is appealing the judge's decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A separate order that Hanen issued Tuesday denied the government's request to stay his Feb. 16 ruling while it is being appealed.
Hanen said “the issues at stake here have national significance and deserve to be fully considered on the merits” by the appeals court “and, in all probability, the Supreme Court of the United States. If the Court were to strike the Government's pleadings at this juncture, the case would be over.”
The new DACA initiative provides three-year deferrals from enforcement actions, up from two years under the original program. In the March 3 document, the government lawyers said that their claim that applications under the new initiative wouldn't start until Feb 18 “may have led to confusion” as when the government started “providing three-year terms of deferred action.”
The second initiative, called the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program (DAPA), would provide work permits to illegal immigrants who have been in the country for at least five years and have children. The administration had not planned to start accepting DAPA applications until May.
Farm groups are concerned that a number of agricultural workers will apply for the DAPA program and leave for other jobs. Some experts, however, say farmworkers may be reluctant to risk coming forward to apply for temporary legal status.
The other states participating in the lawsuit are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.