U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen on Tuesday blocked his own orders to send Justice Department lawyers to annual ethics classes and for the government to turn over information about more than 50,000 illegal immigrants who were improperly granted a three-year amnesty through the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. Unexpectedly, Judge Hanen has temporarily suspended the orders he issued in May, saying he’ll hear new arguments in August.
He also gave the Justice Department a chance to suggest its own punishment for having repeatedly misled the federal court.
The lawyers enraged the judge after they repeatedly told him no part of President Obama’s 2014 deportation amnesty, known as deferred action, was in effect. But the administration had in fact been granting three-year work permits and stays of deportation to some illegal immigrants under one of the 2014 policies that modified a 2012 amnesty already in effect.
The broader amnesty policy is pending before the Supreme Court, but Judge Hanen is still trying to figure out what to do about the lawyers’ behavior and how to handle the more than 100,000 illegal immigrants granted three-year amnesties, instead of the two-year approvals he’d thought they were getting.
In May, Hanen ordered the DOJ lawyers to attend annual ethics classes for being “intentionally deceptive” during the course of the litigation over DAPA and expanded DACA, Obama’s executive amnesty programs.
He also ordered the Department of Justice to provide a list of personal information belonging to the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants who benefited from DACA expansion during a period in late 2014 and early 2015 , thanks to the suspect machinations of the feds.
Hanen has given the Department of Justice until Aug. 22 to produce evidence showing that he was not deliberately misled by the administration’s attorneys regarding when the government would begin accepting applications for DAPA and how many immigrants were mistakenly awarded work permits before the program could begin. He also asked for suggestions on what he should do regarding the misrepresentation by July 31. Previously, Hanen called for ethics classes for all DoJ attorneys.
“The Government knowingly acted contrary to its representations to this Court on over 100,000 occasions,” Hanen wrote in his May 19 order. “This Court finds that the misrepresentations detailed above: (1) were false; (2) were made in bad faith; and (3) misled both the Court and the PlaintiffStates.”
DoJ special litigation counselor James Gilligan argued that requiring the classes exceeds the jurisdiction of a federal judge. Hanen reminded Gilligan that a DoJ brief stated the government should be held accountable for the misrepresentation as a whole.
“I did exactly what you asked me to do,” Hanen said. “So you’re basically saying no blood, no foul?”
Gilligan said it was the DoJ’s opinion that the federal government would prevail on the appeal of the court order because the court’s finding of misrepresentation was not supported by evidence and the court imposed sanctions without following procedure. The DoJ’s argument was that the court order would encroach on the Attorney General’s authority to supervise the litigation involving the U.S. and cause irreparable injury due to impaired enforcement of immigration law.
It also would cause distress to the 108,000 immigrants whose personal identifying information would be produced due to Hanen’s court order.
“It is not the burden of an individual or entity to disprove allegations made against them,” Gilligan said.
Hanen said he had no choice but to request the information of the DACA immigrants, so he implemented safeguards. The alternative was to do nothing, he said.
He also pressed Gilligan for an answer on what the appropriate sanctions were.
“You’re telling a judge, ‘We can lie, cheat and steal, and you can’t do anything about it?’” Hanen asked incredulously. “I’ve asked before what kind of sanctions we should do. What is appropriate?”
Hanen said he needed “something to hang his hat on” and emphasized that he did not like sanctions. Hanen previously asked for input on sanctions in June and August but said he did not receive it.
The DoJ requested a motion to stay the case pending review of the court’s Feb. 16, 2015, preliminary injunction by the Supreme Court.
Hanen’s walk-back comes after four immigrant workers filed an appeal against his court order requiring the Justice Department to hand over the names of the 50,000 people who were prematurely granted quasi-legal status and work permits in 2012.