Department of Justice on hook for misleading, defying court
A federal judge in Texas who previously scolded the Obama administration for hiding its breach of his order to halt the president’s de facto amnesty program for illegal aliens is considering punishment.
At a hearing Wednesday, Judge Andrew Hanen gave both sides in the case until Sept. 4 to “suggest what punishment he should impose on the Obama administration if he decides he was intentionally misled,” Bloomberg reported
The case was brought by 26 states over Obama’s plan to allow up to 5 million illegal aliens to get special permission to remain and work in the United States.
The Obama administration earlier was openly dismissive of the judge.
The Washington Times reported Cecilia Munoz, White House domestic policy director, addressed the issue: “It’s important to put [Hanen’s order] in context, because the broader executive actions are moving forward. The administration continues to implement the portions of the actions that the president and the Department of Homeland Security took, which were not affected by the court’s ruling.”
But Hanen’s original order had said: “The United States of America, its departments, agencies, officers, agents and employees and Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; R. Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of United States customs and Border Protection; Ronald D. Vitiello, deputy chief of United States Border Patrol, United States Customs and Border Protection; Thomas S. Winkowski, acting director of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and Leon Rodriguez, director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services are hereby enjoined from implementing any and all aspects or phases of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents.”
At the hearing Wednesday, government lawyers also apologized to Hanen for issuing 2,600 work permits that were in violation of his order and then making misleading statements on their compliance, Bloomberg said.
“We apologize for those miscommunications and regret them. They were inadvertent and unintended,” said the Department of Justice’s James Gilligan.
Hanen pointed out, however, the actions “were repeated.”
The federal agency said it had recovered all but about a dozen of the 2,600 permits, and it was working on the remaining ones.
The states bringing the case, led by Texas, explained they wanted the government’s efforts to retrieve permits expanded to include another 108,000 issued just before Hanen’s order.
Texas attorney Angela Colmenero said those individuals may be using the permits right now to collect government benefits.
“Every year those permits remain on the books, there are individuals seeking those benefits from the states,” she said.
Hanen also ordered a status report before Sept. 18 and another on May 16, 2016, to monitor the Obama administration’s compliance.
Hanen’s order halting Obama’s program has been affirmed by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but the Obama administration continues to argue that it should be allowed to go ahead and start implementing its program so it can be operational before the end of Obama’s second term.
Hanen’s injunction disrupted Obama’s plan to delay deportation for up to 5 million illegal aliens under a 2014 initiative called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA.
DAPA would offer three-year work permits to illegal aliens who have been in the United States since 2010 and have children who are American citizens or lawful permanent residents. The Obama administration, in compliance with Hanen’s order, apparently hasn’t enacted that provision. But when the federal government began carrying out a DAPA provision that changes a 2012 program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Hanen reacted. The provision extends a two-year reprieve on deportation to three years, and federal government lawyers granted the extra year to 100,000 applicants, prompting a rebuke from Hanen.
It was Feb. 16 when Hanen granted a preliminary injunction to the 26 states that sued Obama for changing immigration law through executive action rather than by proposing legislation to Congress.
Obama himself has said the Constitution barred him from acting alone on the immigration issue.
House Speaker John Boehner has listed 22 times when Obama has made such statements.
For example, in October 2010, Obama said: “I am president, I am not king. I can’t do these things just by myself. … I’ve got to have some partners to do it. … If Congress has laws on the books that says that people who are here who are not documented have to be deported, then I can exercise some flexibility in terms of where we deploy our resources, to focus on people who are really causing problems as opposed to families who are just trying to work and support themselves. But there’s a limit to the discretion that I can show because I am obliged to execute the law. … I can’t just make the laws up by myself.”
‘Unilateral legislative action’
Hanen’s ruling marks the second time federal courts have ruled against Obama’s amnesty actions. WND reported the ruling of a federal court in Pennsylvania.
“President Obama’s unilateral legislative action violates the separation of powers provided for in the United States Constitution as well as the Take Care Clause and, therefore, is unconstitutional,” said U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.
The judge noted Obama “contended that although legislation is the most appropriate course of action to solve the immigration debate, his executive action was necessary because of Congress’ failure to pass legislation, acceptable to him, in this regard.”
“This proposition is arbitrary and does not negate the requirement that the November 20, 2014, executive action be lawfully within the president’s executive authority,” the judge wrote. “It is not.”
At the 5th Circuit, a panel of three judges at the appeals court said Obama’s plan “makes aliens who were not otherwise qualified for federal public benefits eligible for ‘social security retirement benefits, security disability benefits, [and] health insurance under Part A of the Medicare program.’”
“Further, ‘each person who applies for deferred action pursuant to the [DAPA] criteria … shall also be eligible to apply for work authorization for the [renewable three-year] period of deferred action.’”
Such procedures would allow illegal aliens to “‘obtain a Social Security Number,’ ‘accrue quarters of covered employment,’ and ‘correct wage records to add prior covered employment,’” the opinion said.
It warned that should the program ultimately struck down, the illegal aliens who participated would have benefited improperly.
The injunction, the appeals judges said, preserves the status quo. Hanen previously expressed frustration with the government for failing to inform him that officials also had given deferred action to 108,000 applicants shortly after Obama announced his plan in November.
“The court expects all parties, including the government of the United States, to act in a forthright manner and not hide behind deceptive representations and half-truths,” Hanen wrote.
At one point, WND reported, Hanen bluntly asked a Justice Department attorney whether or not President Obama and federal officials can be believed.
“I can trust what Secretary [Jeh] Johnson says … what President Obama says?” Hanen asked, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Fox News reported the judge even went further, instructing Justice Department attorney Kathleen Hartnett, “That’s a yes or no question.”
She responded, “Yes, your honor.”
The Texas lawsuit, joined by 25 other states, was filed when the states suddenly faced massive new demands for public services such as schooling and health care from foreigners who previously had been subject to deportation.