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Texas Judge Grills Obama Attorneys on Immigration Overhaul

Texas Judge Grills Obama Attorneys on Immigration Overhaul

“Like the judge, the states thought nothing was happening”

Back in February, a federal judge in Texas enjoined the Obama Administration from rolling out its immigration overhaul via executive action. In the injunction, the court said that the Administration could not claim prosecutorial discretion (as it applies to illegal aliens covered under the proposed amnesty) because their plan confers benefits on those aliens not currently available under law. Instead, the court said that the Administration was effectively changing the law.

Earlier this month, the same court that issued the injunction demanded that DoJ attorneys respond to allegations that the Administration was going ahead with its plans by granting expanded DACA benefits to more than 100,000 illegal aliens. Administration lawyers had asked the court to reconsider its decision to enjoin the executive amnesty, but the court refused to do so pending a hearing on the DACA issue.

That hearing happened this past week, and by all accounts, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen—the same judge who handled the injunction—was not amused by what he heard (emphasis mine):

U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen, visibly annoyed, confronted a U.S. deputy assistant attorney general over previous government assurances on the timing of the program.

He asked why he shouldn’t grant a discovery request for internal federal immigration documents — a request filed Thursday by 26 states that are suing over Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

At a one-hour hearing in Brownsville, Hanen gave the Justice Department 48 hours to file a motion in response. He said he would then rule promptly on whether to require the government to produce documents concerning applications under Obama’s deferred action program.

The judge said that if he decided to impose sanctions, “the taxpayers of the [26] states would end up paying their own damages.”

Hanen’s barbed comments left little doubt that he sympathized with lawyers for the 26 states, who said they suffered “irreparable harm” when federal officials granted more than 100,000 applications for deferred action after Obama announced the program Nov. 20. He said government lawyers had assured him that “nothing was happening” regarding the applications.

DoJ attorney Kathleen Hartnett attempted to convince the judge that any “confusion” was “inadvertent”:

Hanen said Justice Department lawyers had assured him at a previous hearing that the administration had not begun implementing the deferred-action plan, designed to protect qualified immigrants from deportation for three years.

“Like the judge, the states thought nothing was happening,” Hanen said with exasperation. “Like an idiot, I believed that.”

Deputy Asst. U.S. Atty. Gen. Kathleen R. Hartnett told the judge: “I would like to apologize for any confusion.” She added moments later: “We had no intent to withhold any of this material from the court.”

Hartnett said lawyers immediately notified the court when they realized “we may have inadvertently caused confusion.” Hanen corrected her, asking, “So you waited three weeks to tell me you were doing it?”

Not even the judges believe what this Administration is selling—and now we have documented proof from this hearing that they’re either completely incompetent, or trying to sneak elements of Obama’s executive order in under the noses of both the states, and the federal courts.

Hanen will soon rule on a motion from the States that would allow discovery requests aimed at finding out just how far the Administration went to grant amnesty to millions of undocumented immigrants.

You can read the full transcript of this week’s hearing here.


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The judge said that if he decided to impose sanctions, “the taxpayers of the [26] states would end up paying their own damages.”

How convenient for Obama that we taxpayers pay for his lawless amnesties, and then we have to pay to challenge his lawless amnesties in court, and then we pay again when his lawyers blatantly lie to the judge about his lawless amnesties.

Whatever we do, we’re screwed — and Obama gets away with his lawlessness.

    Exiliado in reply to Observer. | March 21, 2015 at 9:16 am

    And Republicans are too chickenshit to even try impeachment.

      clafoutis in reply to Exiliado. | March 21, 2015 at 9:27 am

      Impeachment would be divine.

      But, consider the rest of the ‘brilliant’ strategy in place: Joe Biden.

      Barky, Valjar, Soros and the other scumbags are very smart when they want to be.

        Exiliado in reply to clafoutis. | March 21, 2015 at 10:14 am

        The way I see it, this narcissistic moron needs to be stopped.
        Impeachment will probably not go through anyways, but it should be enough to keep him busy trying to save his “legacy,” or whatever he thinks it’s his “legacy,” instead of coming up with more anti_American stupid ideas.

        Also, it would show that Republicans are willing to play “ball”. Pun intended.

          platypus in reply to Exiliado. | March 21, 2015 at 5:39 pm

          yep. However, each of those attorneys should be referred for Bar Association discipline by the judge. It is a serious offense (by an attorney) to mislead a judge and they would at least be censured. It would not be surprising for any of them to be suspended for 60 days.

          THAT would send a loud clear message to the fed thugs. Plus, Holder would be required to inform every attorney working for DoJ about the situation. The theory is that the hammer falls hard on the next miscreant because they were warned ahead of time.

    Sammy Finkelman in reply to Observer. | March 22, 2015 at 2:24 am

    The judge said that if he decided to impose sanctions, “the taxpayers of the [26] states would end up paying their own damages.”

    This is a really stupid or ignorant remark, if the judge actually believed that.

    Number 1, it would be all 50 states, not just those 26 states.

    Number 2, this would amount to redirecting of taxes and surely the people who support the lawsuit would want that.

    Number 3, the money would be borrowed and if not, some spending cut, and the least likely thing would be an increase in taxes.

    Number 4, the amount is trivial to the federal government, and really a rounding error, although not so trivial to the states.

Thank you for covering this story.

You cannot rule that DAPA and the expanded DACA are unconstitutionally beyond the executive authority without also saying that the original DACA from 2012 is similarly beyond executive authority.

Does the expanded DACA, which is a subject of the litigation, fully displace and replace the original 2012 (pre-election gambit) DACA? That is, should any and all DACA-related applications be halted, both new and renewed. The admission by the federal government is that they applied a three year “waiver” rather than a two-year waiver. I would suggest that they are judicially estopped from arguing that the 2012 DACA rules can continue for new and renewed applications, certainly no later than the date of the February order.

Since the judge understands that monetary sanctions are pointless, he will look for alternatives. Jailing the lawyers for contempt seems like a possibility.

It would mark the first time in this administration that someone was actually held to account for their criminal behavior.

    sequester in reply to irv. | March 21, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    District Court contempt orders are executed by the United States Marshals Service. The United States Marshals Services reports to non-other than Eric Holder.

    Is it likely that Mr. Holder will execute a contempt order from the District Court Judge in this matter?

      Ragspierre in reply to sequester. | March 21, 2015 at 2:41 pm

      It is EXCEEDINGLY likely that Deputy Marshals will execute the judge’s orders to haul the offending attorneys’ butts into the Federal lock-up IF he orders them to do that.

      And if anybody here thinks that’s all a Federal judge has up his robes, they’re mistaken.

      An appropriate sanction here could take the form of striking all the Obami’s pleadings, leaving only the plaintiffs to carry the issue.

        platypus in reply to Ragspierre. | March 21, 2015 at 5:42 pm

        I hadn’t thought of striking pleadings so when I read it I smiled hard enough to hurt my face.

        It’s a good hurt, though.

        sequester in reply to Ragspierre. | March 21, 2015 at 6:04 pm

        Yes, I do know of one case where a US Marshal tried to arrest members of a military unit for contempt of court stemming from discovery violations. It took one telephone call from command authority to take care of that. Perhaps a few hours of time in all.

        Striking, otherwise well pled, pleadings for contempt is an extreme measure. It could turn the appellate court against you. Sadly, absent a vigilant press or Contress, the President holds most of the cards in a shoot-out with a District Court Judge.

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Ragspierre. | March 22, 2015 at 2:46 am

        Yeah. That’d be “heads I win, tails you lose”

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to sequester. | March 22, 2015 at 2:43 am

      Doesn’t work that way. If Judge Hanen directs the U.S. Marshal’s office to arrest these guys for contempt, it will be so.

      If the judge orders it, they gotta do it:

    mariner in reply to irv. | March 22, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    Sounds like you’re already counting chickens.

This Judge must be the last person in America to actually believe a word of truth from this administration.

Insufficiently Sensitive | March 21, 2015 at 11:14 am

It’s remarkable that this story has emerged so clearly, amidst all the media-enabled suppression of such news.

Had the MSM not blinded and deafened themselves with regard to Obamaprivilege before 2008 – thus preventing the emergence of serious consideration of the lawless governance flaws of this Administration and its near-perpetual damage to the Republic – this slick Chicago crook would not have made it past 2012, let alone 2008.

I’d like to know what thoughts are running through the heads of govt counsel during some of their comments to the judge. Unfortunately, US Attorneys have a very poor record of truthfulness, adherence to rules and law, and being forthcoming with information the opposition and the court need. Even worse, US Attorneys have an even poorer record for being held accountable for these infractions.
A former SCOTUS justice said, when speaking about exhaustion of administrative remedies, that we should be mindful of who gets exhausted – as it’s not going to be the federal govt, which has unlimited resources. His statement applies to much more than administrative cases.
It’s become increasingly tougher to hold the federal govt accountable in court because no one has the capacity to continue the fight through numerous appeals, to uncover failures to disclose, failures in discovery, and the unending mea culpas and second chances the govt gets.
When are principles such as the presumption of regularity going to finally go away? There is no longer any justification for the deference and presumptions that fall in favor of the federal govt, to include Chevron type interpretations.

Subotai Bahadur | March 21, 2015 at 2:18 pm

The Professor is not going to like this, because he is invested in the maintenance of public faith in the efficacy of the courts, by training and career. He honestly believes in it still.

This is part and parcel of the final collapse of the rule of law in this country. We play the games, we file in court, we go through the endless hoops and “the law’s delay”; and to what end? It means nothing at all. The government is above the law and does what it pleases. And the whole legal system is now part of the charade and has been for some time.

Until there is some way to inflict actual financial and legal pain on those who rule us, there is no way of holding them to any limits, let alone the Constitution.

We saw that political action is fruitless, given that the DIABLO’s functionally merged with the Democrats the day after the election. We are seeing now that the government ignores the law and courts at will with no detriment.

There is no comprehension of the very dangerous game in play here, either by the government or the people. The rule of law is all that separates us from what Thomas Hobbes referred to as the “State of Nature, red of Tooth and Claw” before the establishment of government with popular acceptance of legitimacy.

4 boxes. Soapbox, which has had no effect. Ballot Box, which is now moot. Jury Box, the impotence of which is being rubbed in our face. That leaves only one box left, and there is no controlling the results. But that is the only path being left for the country.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Subotai Bahadur. | March 22, 2015 at 2:52 am

    Some of us are ready to take that path.

    You believe that the outcome of opening the fourth box will be “establishment of government with popular acceptance of legitimacy”.

    I have no such fantasy.

      Subotai Bahadur in reply to mariner. | March 22, 2015 at 3:13 pm

      I believe that in the absence of the other three boxes having any effect, that we do NOT have a government with either legitimacy or the acceptance thereof. Which leaves the 4th box as the only remaining option to try to deal with an illegitimate government.

      That leaves only one box left, and there is no controlling the results.

      I believe I made it clear that it is vastly preferable that any or all of the first three work. Further, with no control over the results, those results are not likely to be positive. But if that is the only option other than accepting tyranny, it is where people will go.

      Do you have any other option you would like to offer, other than submission?