Wall Street Journal
By Brent Kendall
May 31, 2016
The Justice Department pushed back Tuesday against an extraordinary sanctions order issued recently by a Texas federal judge who found that government lawyers misled him in a major immigration case, saying the judge’s sweeping penalty far exceeded his authority.
U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen found that the department intentionally misled him in a case which Texas and 25 other states challenged a 2014 Obama administration program that sought to give millions of illegal immigrants a reprieve from deportation. The judge has blocked the program, and the case is now pending before the Supreme Court.
In mid-May, Judge Hanen issued a punishment for the Justice Department for what he said was its deception. He said the government had been dishonest about when it would begin implementing parts of the 2014 program, and as a result some illegal immigrants received favorable benefits before the judge issued an injunction barring them.
The judge ordered that large numbers of Justice Department lawyers attend a legal ethics course, and he required Attorney General Loretta Lynch to submit a comprehensive plan to prevent future unethical conduct.
He also ordered the government to provide identifying information on tens of thousands of illegal immigrants who received longer deportation deferrals before he blocked the administration’s program, a requirement that has created a stir among immigration lawyers.
The punishments imposed by the court “exceed the scope of its authority and unjustifiably impose irreparable injury on the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and thousands of innocent third parties,” the department said in a filing Tuesday to Judge Hanen.
The department, which said it never intended to deceive the court, asked the judge Tuesday to stay his own sanctions. It also said it would immediately appeal.
The government never began implementing a core part of the 2014 immigration program, which sought to expand by roughly four million the number of people eligible for deferred deportations. But the 2014 plan also allowed for longer deferrals for other immigrants—children brought into the country illegally—who already qualified under a separate 2012 program.
Judge Hanen said the Justice Department wrongly told him those participants weren’t getting extended benefits, when in fact they were. The department attributed that to a misunderstanding.
In its Tuesday court filing, the Justice Department said it’s far beyond the power of a district court judge to require that more than 3,000 government lawyers undergo additional ethics training before appearing in courts throughout the 26 states taking part in the lawsuit.
The department also expressed worry about the judge requiring the government turn over to the court information on about 50,000 illegal immigrants who received benefits. Such a move “could undermine public trust in DHS’s commitment to protecting the confidential information contained in immigration files and will create a significant burden,” it said.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com