New York Times
By Michael D Shear
May 19, 2016
A federal judge in Texas on Thursday excoriated the Justice Department, demanding ethics classes for the department’s lawyers and ordering other sanctions for those who argued the case involving President Obama’s immigration executive actions.
He also ordered the government to produce a list of about 100,000 immigrants who entered illegally and who are participating in a government program that protects them from deportation.
In a blistering order, Judge Andrew S. Hanen of Federal District Court in Brownsville accused the Justice Department lawyers of lying to him during arguments in the case, and he barred them from appearing in his courtroom.
He also demanded that Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch provide a “comprehensive plan” within 60 days describing how she will prevent unethical conduct in the future, as well as making sure the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility effectively prevents misconduct among its lawyers.
He also said that any Justice Department lawyer who wants to appear in a state or federal court in any of the 26 states who filed suit to block Mr. Obama’s executive actions should be required to take an annual three-hour ethics course for the next five years.
“Clearly, there seems to be a lack of knowledge about or adherence to the duties of professional responsibility in the halls of the Justice Department,” Judge Hanen wrote in the 28-page order.
A spokesman for the Justice Department said Thursday that “we strongly disagree with the order” but declined to comment further.
Judge Hanen is at the center of the bitter legal fight over the fate of the immigration executive actions Mr. Obama announced at the end of 2014. Texas and 25 other states sued the president, objecting to his efforts to prevent millions of illegal immigrants from being deported and allow them to work in the country legally.
The merits of the case are before the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule near the end of its term in June. But Judge Hanen said in his order that he felt compelled to punish what he said was egregious behavior by the government lawyers in the case.
The judge’s rare, public condemnation of government lawyers was the result of the Obama administration’s decision to move ahead with carrying out part of the president’s immigration plan even after the judge issued a temporary hold on the actions in February 2015.
For several months after that order, thousands of young, illegal immigrants were given a three-year renewal of a program that grants them a temporary right to live and work in the United States legally. Under the judge’s order, the administration should have given only those immigrants the two-year extension available before the president’s executive actions.
Justice Department lawyers later said the administration had made a mistake and reversed the three-year extensions for about 100,000 people, but Judge Hanen accused the lawyers of purposely trying to mislead his court.
In addition to the sanctions on the government lawyers, Judge Hanen demanded a list of all of the illegal immigrants who received the three-year extensions, including “all personal identifiers and locaters including names, addresses, ‘A’ file numbers and all available contact information, together with the date the three-year renewal or approval was granted.”
Judge Hanen said he would keep the list under seal until the Supreme Court rules on the fate of Mr. Obama’s immigration program. But Judge Hanen said that after the court rules, he will consider requests from the 26 states who filed the lawsuit to release part or all of the list.
The judge gave the Justice Department until June 10 to comply with his orders, though the department could appeal those demands to a higher court.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com