In a colorful opinion, a federal judge ordered Obama admin. to turn over immigration records of roughly 50,000 people and told DOJ lawyers to take an ethics course
The administration will appeal the ruling
The Obama administration will appeal a federal judge’s order that it turn over immigration records of almost 50,000 people and require Justice Department lawyers attend ethics courses.
The Justice Department on Tuesday said that the Texas federal judge who last year temporarily blocked President Obama’s controversial executive actions on immigration had exceeded “the scope of a court’s inherent power” when he issued a scathing order earlier this month demanding immigration records and insisting that DOJ lawyers attend ethics courses.
“The department emphatically disagrees with the sanctions orders and will seek review of this matter in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals,” DOJ spokesman Patrick Rodenbush said in a statement. DOJ is also asking for a stay of the judge’s order.
On May 19, Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued an order – replete with references to the movies “Miracle on 34th Street” and “Bridge of Spies” – saying that the government had made misrepresentations to his court when it heard the immigration case in 2015. The order did not impact the President’s executive actions, which are currently before the Supreme Court.
Hanen has called for a hearing on June 7 to address the matter.
Early in the litigation, the government acknowledged that it had made mistakes as to representing when the government would begin implementing one of the programs affiliated with the president’s actions.
Hanen said that both he and opposing counsel were assured that the government would not start implementing an expansion of the program called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals until February 18, 2015.
The judge relied upon that date when he enjoined the program effective February 16.
In actuality, the government implemented a part of the program before February and granted over 100,000 applications nationwide.
Hanen said that after reading the government briefs explaining what had occurred, he determined that” Justice Department lawyers knew the true facts and misrepresented those facts.”
“Such conduct is certainly not worthy of any department whose names includes the word ‘Justice’” Hanen wrote.
Hanen demanded that any attorney employed by the Justice Department in Washington who “appears, or seeks to appear” in a court in one of the 26 states involved in the challenge must attend a legal ethics course. On top of that, he said that the DOJ must submit the names, under seal, of the individuals in each of the plaintiff states who were granted benefits during the time in which the attorneys for the Justice Department “promised that no benefits were being conferred.”
In Tuesday’s filing, DOJ lawyers said that the department takes “with the utmost seriousness the public trust committed to it” and insisted that its attorneys “adhere to the high standards of ethical conduct.” They argued that Hanen’s “bad-faith” misrepresentations were not supported by the evidence and “impermissibly encroach” on the attorney general’s authority to supervise litigation. The order would potentially impact 3,000 attorneys.
The training could also cost nearly $8 million over the next five years, DOJ said in a separate filing.
Furthermore, the government argued by insisting on the production of immigration records for approximately 50,000 individuals could “undermine public trust” in the government’s commitment to protecting confidential information contained in immigration files.
Leon Rodriguez, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a separate declaration saying that the mandate to provide immigration records could have a “chilling effect” on the willingness of individuals to seek a wide range of immigration benefits from the government.
Karen Tumlin, legal director of the National Immigration Law Center, praised the DOJ filing saying the government was acting to “swiftly protect the rights of young immigrants who should not be caught up in the legal cross hairs of this case.”