The 26 states who are suing to stop President Obama’s executive action on immigration allege the federal government misled a judge about not enacting part of the plan before the judge put a temporary stop to it.
The Justice Department announced this week in court documents that federal officials gave 100,000 people three-year reprieves from deportation and granted them work permits under a program that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to to the U.S. illegally as children, reports Star Tribune.
It is this announcement that has sparked the allegation of a judge being misled by the government.
It was previously stated by Justice Department attorneys that federal officials would not accept requests under an expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, until Feb. 18.
On Feb. 16, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, Texas, put the federal government’s immigration actions regarding DACA on hold. The hold also included deportation protections to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for some years.
Requests from Justice Department attorneys for Hanen to lift his hold while they appeal the ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans have not been answered.
"News that tens of thousands of expanded work permits have already been issued to illegal immigrants while President Obama's executive action, which we believe is illegal, is being contested in the courts is both outrageous and unacceptable," Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said.
The Justice Department said the Feb. 18 date, when requests under the new and expanded eligibility would be accepted, “may have led to confusion.”
Between Nov. 24 and Feb. 16, the 100,000 three-year reprieves were granted to those already eligible under the original 2012 guidelines of DACA, the Justice Department said.
Justice Department attorneys do not believe the preliminary injunction requires federal officials to, in any way, reverse the already-granted three-year reprieves.
The states who oppose the federal government’s actions said in their lawsuit, filed Thursday, that they do not understand why the 100,000 reprieves were not done under the new and expanded DACA guidelines.
The length of the reprieve is a strong argument for the states.
The 2012 DACA guidelines granted two-year deportation reprieves and work permits. The 100,000 reprieves given since November gave three years, as would be allowed under the new Obama immigration action that was put on hold Feb. 16, but, nonetheless, would not have been available to apply for until Feb. 18.
"This newly disclosed conduct is difficult to square with (the federal government's) prior representation to the Court that 'nothing is going to happen' until weeks after [a Jan. 15 court hearing on the preliminary injunction request]," the states said in court documents.
The 26 states, led by Texas, have asked Hanen to allow them to request additional information from the federal government about how it approves DACA requests at the same time the lawsuit is going through the courts.
Hanen’s original halt on the new immigration action indicated Feb. 18 as the date new requests under the expansion of DACA would be accepted. He also indicated that his injunction did not affect the 2012 DACA program, but it did put on hold expansions and additions proposed by Obama’s action.
The states that oppose Obama’s immigration action, and are part of the lawsuit, are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.