You won’t like U.S District Court Judge Hanen when he’s angry

For the second time this year, the Department of Justice lawyers had to explain to U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen why the Department of Homeland Security ignored the judge’s wishes and began to implement President Obama’s executive order granting amnesty to approximately 5,000,000 illegal immigrants. As reported in the Washington Times:

President Obama’s lawyers admitted to a federal judge late Thursday that they had broken the court’s injunction halting the administration’s new deportation amnesty, issuing thousands of work permits even after Judge Andrew S. Hanen had ordered the program stopped.

The stunning admission, filed just before midnight in Texas, where the case is being heard, is the latest misstep for the administration’s lawyers, who are facing possible sanctions by Judge Hanen for their continued problems in arguing the case.

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The Justice Department lawyers said Homeland Security, which is the defendant in the case, told them Wednesday that an immigration agency had approved about 2,000 applications for three-year workpermits, which was part of Mr. Obama’s new amnesty, even after Judge Hanen issued his Feb. 16 injunction halting the entire program.In February, Judge Hanan issued the stay based on the request by 26 states suing to permanently stop Obama’s executive action granting amnesty to illegal immigrants. Hanan granted the stay to allow the lawsuit to make its way through the courts before the action could be implemented. The judge wrote in a memorandum accompanying his order that the lawsuit should go forward and that without a preliminary injunction the states will “suffer irreparable harm in this case.” In other words the proverbial cat will be out of the bag. 

When he made the initial ruling, Justice Department lawyers assured Judge Hanen that implementation of Obama’s order had not begun and would not be initiated until the lawsuit filed by 26 states against the administration had a chance to get through the court system per Hanen’s order.

But, in March, the the DOJ attorneys admitted that Homeland Security had already granted 108,000 immigrants, who already were protected from deportation, three-year renewals of their deferred status. Those three-year deferrals are one aspect of Obama’s executive action. According to the coverage in the San Antonio Express News upon hearing the DOJ’s present the news Judge Hanen snapped, “You said it’s not happening. And like an idiot I believed that.”

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.

April began with Judge Hanen refusing to set aside his Feb. 16 decision granting a preliminary injunction. But, before he issued that decision:

In a separate order Hanen, told the government it has until April 21 to file to the court and plaintiffs detailed information about its March advisory about the 108,000 three-year reprieves.

The order asks the government to produce “any and all drafts” of the advisory, including information on when each draft was written, edited or revised. Hanen also asked for a list of each person who knew about the advisory.

After being asked to re-consider Judge Hanen ruled last week there was more evidence that his initial ruling was correct, saying that while testifying on April 14, after his injunction was issued, before the House Judiciary Committee, Sarah Saldana, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, “reiterated that any officer or agent who did not follow the dictates of the 2014 DHS Directive would face the entire gamut of possible employee sanctions, including termination.”

Hanen said that “the President’s statements have now been reaffirmed under oath by the very person in charge of immigration enforcement.” He added that the government “has announced, and has now confirmed under oath, that it is pursuing a policy of mandatory non-compliance (with the [Immigration and Nationality Act], and that any agent who seeks to enforce the duly-enacted immigration laws will face sanctions – which could include the loss of his or her job.” It is this “clear abdication of the law by the Government – a law that is only enforceable by the Government and outside the province of the states” that gives the states standing to bring suit.

As far as the Judges request for documentation that the 108,000 amnesty documents were a mistake, the administration turned over documents the judge requested but according to the Washington Times, told the judge “neither he nor the state of Texas, the chief plaintiff that sued to stop the amnesty, should be allowed to look at the documents because they are privileged communications.” (I am sure that increases the Judge’s anger.)

Even though the most recent case of ignoring Hanen’s wishes involve only 2,000 illegal immigrants vs. 108,000, it is much more serious as the first time the DHS ignored a promise made to Judge Hanen – the second time they ignored a direct order by the judge.