White House de­nies ly­ing to fed­eral judge in amnesty case

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ve­he­mently de­nied Wed­nes­day that it lied to a fed­eral judge about Pres­i­dent Obama’s de­por­ta­tion amnesty, but the court is mov­ing to pun­ish him any­way, say­ing his lawyers were ei­ther ig­no­rant or in­tended to mis­lead the court when they in­sisted the amnesty pol­icy was on hold.

In fact, the ad­min­is­tra­tion had al­ready pro­cessed more than 100,000 cases of so-called Dream­ers un­der the three-year pro­vi­sions Mr. Obama an­nounced in Novem­ber — some­thing the pres­i­dent’s lawyers be­lat­edly ad­mit­ted to Judge An­drew S. Ha­nen.

“Whether by ig­no­rance, omis­sion, pur­pose­ful mis­di­rec­tion, or be­cause they were mis­led by their clients, the at­tor­neys for the gov­ern­ment mis­rep­re­sented the facts,” the judge said, adding that he was stunned the gov­ern­ment waited months be­fore com­ing for­ward.

Late Tues­day, Judge Ha­nen is­sued an or­der re­buk­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion and grant­ing Texas, which is su­ing to halt the amnesty, limited dis­cov­ery in the case. For now, that means the gov­ern­ment must turn over doc­u­ments show­ing its thought process on how it was plan­ning to carry out the amnesty.

Judge Ha­nen also shot down the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s re­quest to lift an in­junc­tion and restart the amnesty im­me­di­ately, ei­ther na­tion­wide or at least in some states where gov­er­nors have asked for it. The judge said he’s more con­vinced than ever that Mr. Obama broke fed­eral law when he an­nounced the amnesty last Novem­ber.

In par­tic­u­lar, Judge Ha­nen said the pres­i­dent’s dec­la­ra­tion in a tele­vised town hall in Fe­bru­ary that agents who ig­nored his poli­cies would face “con­se­quences” shows Mr. Obama in­tended to re­write the law, not to carry it out.

“In sum­mary, the chief ex­ec­u­tive has or­dered that the laws re­quir­ing re­moval of il­le­gal im­mi­grants that con­flict with the 2014 DHS di­rec­tive are not to be en­forced, and that any­one who at­tempts to do so will be pun­ished,” Judge Ha­nen wrote.

The White House de­fended Mr. Obama’s poli­cies as “com­mon sense” — but spokesman Josh Earnest also stum­bled, call­ing them “leg­isla­tive ac­tion” be­fore cor­rect­ing him­self. Un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion, only Congress can write leg­is­la­tion, while the pres­i­dent is charged with car­ry­ing out the laws, not writ­ing them.

“We con­tinue to have strong con­fi­dence in the legal ar­gu­ments that we’re mak­ing,” Mr. Earnest said, adding that they al­ready had an ap­peal pending of Judge Ha­nen’s ear­lier in­junc­tion, and will pur­sue that re­view.

Mean­while, the Jus­tice Depart­ment bris­tled at the judge’s ac­cu­sa­tion that gov­ern­ment lawyers mis­led him.

“We em­phat­i­cally dis­agree with the dis­trict court’s or­der re­gard­ing the gov­ern­ment’s state­ments,” depart­ment spokes­woman Emily Pierce said.

Judge Ha­nen’s rul­ings capped a busy day that saw both sides of the im­mi­gra­tion de­bate notch vic­to­ries and de­feats.

Ear­lier Tues­day, the Fifth Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals tossed out a chal­lenge to Mr. Obama’s 2012 amnesty for Dream­ers, find­ing that nei­ther Mis­sis­sippi nor im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment agents, both of whom had sued to stop that amnesty, had stand­ing in court.

Im­mi­grant rights ac­tivists said that bodes well for their cause be­cause that same ap­peals court is hear­ing the ap­peal of Judge Ha­nen’s in­junc­tion.

But some legal an­a­lysts said Texas and its fel­low states have ar­gued their case dif­fer­ently, in­clud­ing pre­sent­ing spe­cific ev­i­dence of eco­nomic harm from Mr. Obama’s lat­est amnesty, which could earn them stand­ing where Mis­sis­sippi failed.

For now, the 2012 amnesty for Dream­ers re­mains op­er­a­tional, grant­ing more than 600,000 young adult il­le­gal im­mi­grants ten­ta­tive legal sta­tus and work per­mits for two years. But Judge Ha­nen’s in­junc­tion has halted the 2014 amnesty, leav­ing mil­lions of other Dream­ers and il­le­gal im­mi­grant par­ents who stood to ben­e­fit still in limbo — though Mr. Obama has said he won’t de­port them any­way.

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