You said it’s not happening,” U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen said, “And like an idiot I believed that.”
Two months ago Justice Department lawyers had assured Judge Hanen that Obama’s executive order granting amnesty to 5 million illegal immigrants was not being put into effect until the lawsuit filed by 26 states against the administration had a chance to get through the court system. Earlier this month, the U.S. government admitted it granted 108,000 immigrants, who already were protected from deportation, three-year renewals of their deferred status, instead of two years. Those three-year deferrals are one aspect of Obama's amnesty by executive fiat.
In the coming days, Hanen will rule on a motion that would enable the states suing the government to question the administration about its recent actions on immigration, and whether to issue sanctions against the government.I guess he can't hold the president in contempt and throw him in Jail for awhile.
While it’s unclear what bearing Thursday's proceedings will have on the overarching lawsuit, a visibly irritated Hanen took the opportunity to upbraid the Justice Department lawyers and question how trustworthy the administration would be on other matters.
“I can trust what the president says?” Hanen pointedly asked a department lawyer. “That’s a yes-or-no question.”
Justice Department lawyer Kathleen Hartnett said the U.S. government regretted the confusion, explaining it had been focused on addressing the irreparable harm alleged in the lawsuit, adding immediate steps were taken to stop renewing deferred deportations for three years as soon as Hanen issued his temporary injunction.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has said the most pressing issue is the extent to which the Obama administration issued longer work permits to immigrants.
“In light of the complexity of this entire program, we need some time and not just the word of a few attorneys from the Department of Justice,” said Angela Colmenero, assistant attorney general for Texas, speaking for the plaintiff states.
On the matter of possible sanctions, Hanen noted the burden of paying any damages would fall to the very states and taxpayers suing the government.