Justice Dept. Asks Court to Lift Injunction Against Immigration Action

13 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Administration Asks Court to Lift Order Halting Immigration Programs.

Obama wants to give Social Security numbers, green cards and work permits to some who are in the country illegally, and guarantee them they won’t be deported for at least two years The U.S. government on Thursday asked an appeals court to lift a temporary hold on President Barack Obama’s executive action to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, arguing it can’t wait for the judge who blocked the action to make a ruling on a similar request.The Obama administration, fighting a lawsuit by 26 states against the president’s executive actions on immigration, asked a federal appeals court Thursday to lift an order by a judge in Texas that halted the programs.(Bloomberg) — The Obama administration went over the head of a federal judge who ignored the government’s Monday deadline to lift his order blocking a controversial immigration program. Calling the legal reasoning behind the Feb. 16 injunction “unprecedented and wrong,” the administration filed for an emergency stay in the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.

Hanen, who issued an injunction last month halting the amnesty, went too far in halting the program nationwide, rather than just in Texas and its 25 fellow states that sued. “In short, the preliminary injunction is a sweeping order that extends beyond the parties before the court and irreparably harms the government and the public interest,” the lawyers said. The request, which you can read right here, is notable for the quick timetable it urges: It asks the court to act on the demand to lift the injunction within 14 days.

This raises the possibility that the measures could, in fact, continue to go forward quite soon — while the underlying legal battle over them awaits resolution. The states, led by Texas, argue that Obama’s action was unconstitutional and would force them to invest more in law enforcement, health care and education. It contests Hanen’s claim that the executive actions cause “irreparable harm” to states, in the form of money spent on driver’s licenses to beneficiaries, arguing that such harm is “indirect” and “speculative” — the result of state driver’s license policies — and thus not sufficient to show “standing.” It argues that Hanen was wrong to conclude that the states’ lawsuit against the actions is likely to succeed on the merits, claiming Hanen misstated the policy basics underlying the “prosecutorial discretion” rationale that justifies these actions. The Texas judge’s order prevents immigration agents from focusing scarce resources on deporting criminals while leaving law-abiding undocumented immigrants with long-standing family ties in the U.S. alone, the government said.

Hanen, millions of undocumented immigrants have been caught in legal limbo, unable to apply for two programs that were aimed at easing deportation threats. It said that the court should lift the nationwide injunction entirely or limit it to Texas, the lead state in the lawsuit and the only one Judge Hanen specifically found would be harmed if the initiatives went forward. Deferred action helps immigration officials distinguish criminals and other high-priority aliens from aliens who are not priorities for removal and whose cases may additionally burden already backlogged immigration courts…DAPA and the expansion of DACA will advance important border-safety, public-safety and national-security goals in the public interest…the injunction also impairs the humanitarian interest of providing temporary relief for close family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. “The administration turns Hanen’s ‘irreparable harm’ reasoning on its head, saying, in effect, ‘You want to talk about irreparable harm? Hanen, whose courthouse sits a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the Mexican border in Brownsville, Texas, blocked the program hours before the administration said agents would start processing applications on Feb. 18.

Hanen’s ruling was narrow, holding that the administration had likely failed to comply with procedures governing how federal agencies can establish regulations. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Brownsville, Texas, sided last month with officials from 26 largely Republican states who had sued, contending that President Barack Obama overstepped his authority. But Hanen put that request on hold pending a hearing on March 19 to review allegations the government misled him about the implementation of part of the immigration plan. Also on Thursday, 14 states and the District of Columbia filed papers in the same court supporting the administration and asking to be exempt from the injunction. “A single state cannot dictate national immigration policy, yet that is what the district court allowed here,” those states argued. In their 21-page motion, Justice Department attorneys called the injunction ‘unprecedented and wrong’ and argued lifting it was crucial as the order ‘irreparably interferes with (the Homeland Security Department’s) ability to protect the Homeland and secure our borders.’ ‘President Obama’s unconstitutional use of executive power to accomplish what he couldn’t do in Congress sets a dangerous precedent that threatens the fabric of our Republic,’ Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement responding to the Justice Department’s emergency motion. ‘The state of Texas and a bipartisan coalition of 25 other states will continue to oppose the President’s unilateral and lawless actions,’ Paxton added.

Rather than suffering financial losses, as Texas said it would if the programs went forward, “states will benefit from these immigration reforms,” they said. On Monday, Hanen ordered administration officials to appear before him next week “prepared to fully explain” the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to grant three-year work permits and deportation waivers to 100,000 immigrants in the weeks prior to the program’s official start.

But Texas has on its side a longer list: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The judge then ruled that Texas was probably correct in saying the administration didn’t jump through the procedural hoops required to announce a major new policy. Yet the court enjoined DHS from implementing the Guidance nationwide, barring implementation in States that do not oppose it and in States that support it. Government lawyers were referring to the latest expansion to the immigration program and didn’t mention the processing of immigrants who qualified under a 2012 version of the plan, according to the filing. But Hanen responded that he would not rule on the motion until at least March 19, after he’s held a hearing to resolve a dispute between the parties on a related issue. “Normally, the appeals court would defer to a district court’s management of the case, but in some circumstances they might override that judgment,” Levin said.

In this, the government will be joined by at least a dozen states, including California and New York, that will be filing a brief insisting that the injunction should not be applied to them, arguing that they stand to benefit economically from people being allowed to work legally for a time, and thus that the injunction is harming them. In the meantime, Washington State and 13 others have filed a brief in support of the government, arguing that their residents “should not have to live under an improper injunction based on harms other states incorrectly claim they will suffer.” The states allege that President Obama and the Homeland Security Department overstepped their authority to change U.S. immigration policy without Congressional approval. The administration on Thursday also asked the New Orleans court to give fast-track consideration to a full appeal of Judge Hanen’s injunction that it has filed.

A national immigrant rights’ group on Thursday said it supported the administration request. “Our communities are robbed of the opportunity to live free from fear of deportation and our economy is deprived of much-needed fiscal benefits with each day that this injunction remains in place,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. But the administration decided not to wait until then to ask for the stay. “The district court has taken the extraordinary step of allowing states to override the United States’ exercise of its enforcement discretion in immigration laws,” the government argued in its papers.

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