A federal judge signaled Monday that he has no plans to act soon on the Obama Administration’s request to stay an order blocking President Barack Obama’s latest round of executive actions on immigration.
U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen said in an order issued Monday afternoon that he views as serious claims that federal government lawyers may have misled the court about the implementation of new immigration policies the president ordered in November.
Last week, the Justice Department advised Hanen that the federal government issued new 3-year “deferred action” grants and work permits to 100,000 people between November 24 and when Hanen blocked the Obama moves on February 16.
The group of 26 states whose lawsuit persuaded Hanen to block the Obama immigration actions recently filed a motion calling the federal disclosure “surprising” and asserting that Justice Department lawyers had assured the court that no action would be taken to implement Obama’s new policies until mid-February.
Obama’s moves announced in November expanded eligibility for the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program and initiated a new program for illegal immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. However, there was a third part to Obama’s new actions: he extended the “deferred action” period protecting certain immigrants from deportation from two years to three, and authorized the issuance of three-year work permits as well.
Hanen, who sits in Brownsville, Texas, said Monday that he wants a more complete explanation of what happened.
“Due to the seriousness of the matters discussed therein, the Court will not rule on any other pending motions until it is clear that these matters, if true, do not impact the pending matters or any rulings previously made by this Court,” Hanen wrote. He set a hearing on the matter for March 19 and ordered that Justice Department lawyers “be prepared to fully explain to this Court all of the matters addressed in and circumstances surrounding” the notice the feds sent the judge last week.
A Justice official who asked not to be named said Hanen’s ruling was being reviewed.
Hanen’s decision appears to indicate that he won’t be meeting a deadline of sorts the Justice Department set last week, warning it could move to an appeals court to block Hanen’s original injunction if he didn’t act on a stay request by the close of business Monday.
A few weeks ago, federal government lawyers set a similar timing target for Hanen, but did not move to the 5th Circuit after he failed to rule by that time.