A federal judge in Texas has issued a stay on his order demanding that attorneys for the federal government turn over the identifying information of 50,000 young immigrants with deportation deferrals. It all started when a group of 26 states filed a lawsuit in late 2014 challenging Obama’s proposed measures, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued a preliminary injunction that halted them. Before ordering the injunction, Justice Department attorneys told Hanen one key part of Obama’s actions, an expansion of a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, hadn’t taken effect. Federal officials later revealed they had given more than 108,000 people three-year reprieves from deportation and granted them work permits under the program. .
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued the stay of his own order after attorneys for DOJ and for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) had argued that the demand unfairly punished young immigrants. The attorneys also had filed documents in the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals asking Hanen’s order be blocked. “This order cannot survive an appeal because there is no legitimate basis for punishing innocent immigrant youth, who are not party to the case before Judge Hanen, in order to address alleged misconduct by attorneys for the United States,” said Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel for MALDEF.
In a one-page order issued after Tuesday’s hearing in the South Texas city of Brownsville, Hanen wrote that he would revisit the issue at the August hearing, including any suggestions from the Justice Department regarding “an appropriate sanction for the misrepresentations.”
In his May ruling, Hanen had also ordered that federal officials provide a list of the individuals who were mistakenly given the three year reprieves and that this information could be given to officials in states where these immigrants live. Hanen’s decision on Tuesday also delayed the release of this information, which came as welcome news to immigrant advocates.
“The idea of handing (the states) the names and addresses and very private information of (immigrants) to do with what they would was very alarming to the DACA recipients,” said Nina Perales, vice president for litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF.
Obama’s proposed executive actions could shield roughly 4 million people from deportation and make them eligible to work in the United States. Many Republicans oppose the actions, saying only Congress has the right to take such sweeping action. A ruling on the lawsuit, led by Texas, is pending from the U.S. Supreme Court.