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Judge Orders Ethics Classes for Justice Department Attorneys in Immigration Case

The Brownsville-based judge who halted President Obama’s 2014 executive action on immigration has decided that ethics classes are in order for the attorneys who defended the policy.

Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan look on as President Obama delivers his final State of the Union address on Jan. 12, 2016.

The Brownsville-based judge who halted President Obama’s 2014 executive action on immigration has decided that ethics classes are in order for the attorneys who defended the policy.

In a 28-page order, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen said the classes are required for the U.S. Department of Justice attorneys who wish to practice in the 26 states that are suing over the immigration policy. The order also told the government to provide Hanen a list of the immigrants who benefited prematurely from the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) policy.

Hanen said his sanctions stem from the administration’s attorneys purposely misleading his court about when the government would begin accepting applications for the program, and how many immigrants were mistakenly awarded work permits before the program was slated to start.

The policy was announced in November 2014 and would have allowed an estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants to apply for a work permit and a reprieve from deportation. It also expanded a 2012 initiative known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

“The Government knowingly acted contrary to its representations to this Court on over 100,000 occasions,” Hanen wrote. “This Court finds that the misrepresentations detailed above: (1) were false; (2) were made in bad faith; and (3) misled both the Court and the Plaintiff States.”

Texas and 16 other states initially sued the Obama administration in early December 2014 after the executive action was announced; eight others eventually signed on. Hanen’s decision was upheld twice by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The case was argued last month before the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to issue a decision next month.

The Obama administration has argued that Texas does not have standing to sue the government and that executive action isn’t granting undocumented immigrants a free pass. The administration says the president is telling immigration agents to use their limited resources to deport criminals and felons, while simultaneously allowing immigrants deemed low priority to work and stay with their families.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Thursday that Hanen’s sanctions are further proof of the White House’s dishonesty in the case.

“Throughout this case, the administration has struggled to provide accurate, reliable information regarding the scope of the President’s plan or even when it would be implemented,” he said in a statement. “From the start, our lawsuit has been about asserting that one person cannot unilaterally change the law, and part of that is ensuring everyone abides by the rule of law.”

Hanen said he would keep the list of individuals who obtained the benefits sealed at least until the high court made its ruling. He also declined to issue monetary sanctions, saying that taxpayers shouldn’t be burdened with footing the bill for the government’s mistakes.

“The Court would be imposing more costs on the aggrieved parties, and the Justice Department, which is actually responsible for this mess, would go unscathed,” he wrote. “There would be no corrective effect and no motivation for the Government’s lawyers to act more appropriately in the future.”


Hanen's May 19 Order

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