In February of 2015, a federal judge blocked an executive immigration order, given by President Obama, that would have granted deportation stays to five million immigrants currently residing in the U.S. without proper documentation. What’s more, the immigration action would have also provided many of those same immigrants with the right to lawfully obtain permits to work.
Now, the same judge who blocked the action from taking effect–claiming that the passage of the legislation was in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act–is threatening to sanction the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and its lawyers.
Sanctions Against the DOJ Possible for Lying in Court
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen is the man behind the stay that blocked the immigration action from taking effect in February. And in a March court hearing, the judge accused the DOJ of misleading him regarding when the legislation would actually go into effect. Hanen said that the DOJ led him to believe that the immigration action would not be implemented until he made an order regarding it; little did he know, Hanen claims, 108,000 people had already been granted work permits and delayed deportation. Judge Hanen has stated that if it’s revealed that the DOJ intentionally misrepresented the facts, he will order sanctions against the administration.
DOJ Attorney Attempts to Explain Miscommunication
The DOJ was represented by attorney Kathleen Hartnett, who was criticized before the court for stating that nothing would be done in regards to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) until February 18, 2015. Hartnett told Judge Hanen that the administration had been focused on other parts of the proposed action, hence the DACA slip up (The 108,000 people granted deportation stays mentioned above fell under 2012 DACA legislation, according to the DOJ. However, 2012 legislation only granted two-year reprieves, whereas the new legislation under Obama grants three-year reprieves). Hartnett also told Hanen that he can trust what President Obama says.
Types of Sanctions that May Be Imposed
According to news sources, Hanen has ruled out monetary sanctions, as monetary sanctions would be paid by taxpayers, punishing the citizen more than the DOJ. Instead, other, non-financial sanctions may be imposed, although no announcements have been made about specifics yet.
What’s next for immigration reform and how can an immigration attorney help?
A federal appellate court will hear an expedited appeal of the ruling made by Judge Hanen on April 17, 2015. Until then, the action will continue to be blocked.
In the interim, those who may be protected by the action once it goes into effect are encouraged to continue preparing their paperwork as normal. To learn more about the reform and how you may be impacted if you’re living in the U.S. without proper documentation, contact the attorneys at Goldstein Immigration Lawyers at 617-722-0005.