A federal judge denied the federal government's request to lift a hold on President Obama's controversial immigration actions in an opinion released Tuesday night.
Judge Andrew Hanen wrote that the government misled the court by revealing last month it had granted expanded work permit renewals to 100,000 illegal immigrants before the court blocked the administration from implementing its new policies.
“It is obvious that there is no pressing, emergent need for this program,” he wrote as part of the rationale for not allowing the administration to immediately implement its new policies.
Hanen also issued a second order that slammed the Justice Department for “misconduct” in its delay of informing the court about the expanded work permit grants. He cited transcripts from hearings to argue that there was an understanding that the administration had not implemented any new immigration policies before Hanen’s initial ruling, even though the Department of Homeland Security had already begun processing expanded work permit renewals.
That order called on the government to file all drafts of the March advisory that addressed those work permits, as well as all metadata, and a detailed timeline to show when each person learned about the expanded renewals.
The administration has argued that it announced those changes in a November memo, just days after Obama announced his intention to implement new immigration policies. Because the memo had been released months before, Homeland Security has argued that the decision to expand work permit renewals was already public.
A group of more than 20 states has challenged the president’s immigration actions as an executive overreach. Hanen ruled in February the courts should decide the constitutionality of the policies before implementation.
The federal government had contended the Texas district court judge didn’t have the jurisdiction to block all of the policies, just the ones that impact Texas, essentially creating different immigration standards for the interim. But Hanen dismissed that argument as inconsistent with the Constitution, which calls for “uniform” immigration laws.
He added that the government had argued in a 2012 Supreme Court case on Arizona’s controversial immigration laws that certain policies hurt its ability to maintain a “comprehensive and unified system” of laws.
“There is a lengthy history of precedent concerning the need for a uniform approach to immigration, and this Court sees no reason to depart from those cases,” he wrote.
The Justice Department already petitioned the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in March to lift Hanen’s stay. It will hear oral arguments in that case next week, but has not yet decided on whether to do so. That court just sided with the administration on a ruling over the original 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
—Updated at 10:06 a.m. on Wednesday.