WashPo: President Obama’s lawyers admitted to a federal judge late Thursday that they had broken the court’s injunction halting the administration’s new deportation amnesty, issuing thousands of work permits even after Judge Andrew S. Hanen had ordered the program stopped.
The stunning admission, filed just before midnight in Texas, where the case is being heard, is the latest misstep for the administration’s lawyers, who are facing possible sanctions by Judge Hanen for their continued problems in arguing the case.
The Justice Department lawyers said Homeland Security, which is the defendant in the case, told them Wednesday that an immigration agency had approved about 2,000 applications for three-year work permits, which was part of Mr. Obama’s new amnesty, even after Judge Hanen issued his Feb. 16 injunction halting the entire program.
Top Obama officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, had repeatedly assured Congress they had fully halted the program and were complying with the order.
“The government sincerely regrets these circumstances and is taking immediate steps to remedy these erroneous three-year terms,” the administration lawyers said.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said it was “remarkable” that the administration kept approving some applications.
“The last time I checked, injunctions are not mere suggestions. They are not optional,” the Iowa Republican said. “This disregard for the court’s action is unacceptable and disturbing, especially after Secretary Johnson’s assurances that his agency would honor the injunction.”
He has written a letter to Mr. Johnson asking the department to turn over all of its communications about implementing the three-year policy.
The Justice Department didn’t respond to a request for comment Friday, but Homeland Security officials said Mr. Johnson has asked his department’s inspector general to investigate what went wrong.
The Justice Department didn’t respond to a request for comment Friday morning but Homeland Security officials said Mr. Johnson has asked his department’s inspector general to investigate what went wrong.
Homeland Security officials also said they’re going back to try to revoke the three-year permits and reissue them as two-year permits instead.
Judge Hanen had already been pondering whether to sanction the Justice Department lawyers after they admitted to misleading him — they said inadvertently — on more than 100,000 amnesty applications approved between the Nov. 20 date Mr. Obama announced the new program and the Feb. 16 date the judge issued his injunction.
Thursday’s filing, however, appears to be worse, since it breaks a direct injunction, and comes two months after the judge began to scrutinize the administration lawyers’ behavior after that first instance.
The lawyers also had to correct a previous number they’d given the court, when they’d said just 55 applications had been approved in the immediate aftermath of the injunction. The actual number, the lawyers admitted, was 72. They blamed “additional errors.”
The Justice Department said it learned Wednesday that Homeland Security had approved the applications. The lawyers waited until nearly midnight Thursday to inform Judge Hanen.