A federal judge in the district court of South Texas has ordered top officials with the Department of Homeland Security — including Secretary Jeh Johnson — to appear in person in his court in Brownsville next month to show why they should not be held in contempt for violating an injunction issued against President Obama’s executive amnesty order.
Andrew Hanen issued the rare order on Tuesday in the latest court filing for a lawsuit filed to halt President Obama’s executive amnesty order. Obama announced the action on Nov. 20. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, then the state’s attorney general, filed the suit on Dec. 3.
Hanen called the Obama administration’s response to his Feb. 16 injunction “unacceptable” and “unprofessional.” He also stated that he is “shocked and surprised at the cavalier attitude the Government has taken” towards it.
At issue is the federal government’s failure to clear up why DHS issued 2,000 work permits to illegal aliens even after the injunction was in place. The Justice Department made that announcement in May, but DHS and its sub-agencies have not yet explained why applications for the permits were approved.
Hanen says that the government must answer that question to his satisfaction by the end of the month or else appear in his court on Aug. 19.
“Each individual Defendant must attend and be prepared to show why he or she should not be held in contempt of Court,” Hanen ordered.
The list of defendants includes DHS’ Johnson as well as the heads of Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
“In addition to the individual Defendants, the Government shall bring all relevant witnesses on this topic as the Court will not continue this matter to a later date,” Hanen added.
Issuing 2,000 work permits to illegal aliens after the injunction is not the government’s first misstep in the case.
In March, Justice Department attorneys stated in a midnight court filing that DHS had granted three-year deferrals to more than 100,000 illegal aliens between the Nov. 20 amnesty announcement and before the Feb. 16 injunction. But DHS had already told Hanen that no illegal aliens would receive relief until late February at the latest. The government said that the benefits were granted by accident.
Obama’s Nov. 20 action would extend amnesty to up to five million illegal aliens that aren’t already covered by his 2012 policy, Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). His most recent move expands on DACA and shields some parents of legal permanent residents from deportation.
[Hat tip: Josh Blackman]