Either Texas Judge Can’t Read or He Is Playing Politics With Immigrants

Brownsville courthouse where politics holds sway.

Yesterday, the Federal Judge in Texas that blocked implementation of President Barack Obama’s administrative relief program refused to rule on a motion from the Obama administration to stay the injunction. No one thought that Federal District Court Judge Andrew Hanen would lift his own injunction, but the assumption was that he would turn the request down and the case would move to the Court of Appeals. By refusing to rule, he creates a bottleneck that could hold up a decision by a higher court.

Hanen’s move is entirely political. He said that he would not rule because he had only been made aware last week that the government had implemented one aspect of the program. He claimed to be unaware that young immigrants with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) under the 2012 version of the that program were now receiving three-year work authorizations instead of two-year permits when they renewed their status. The judge claimed to have been shocked at this.

Give me a break! Everyone who can read knows that the change in the length of time the work permits were to be authorized went into effect immediately on November 20. Here is the memo from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announcing the program back on November 20, 2014:

The period for which DACA and the accompanying employment authorization is granted will be extended to three-year increments, rather than the current two-year increments. This change shall apply to all first-time applications as well as all applications for renewal effective November 24, 2014. Beginning on that date, USCIS should issue all work authorization documents valid for three years…

This memo is unambiguous in saying that the change in period for the work permits began more than three months ago. The notion that the court or the states that brought the suit were not aware of this fact is ridiculous. The Johnson memo was at the heart of the plaintiffs’ complaint. I am sure that they read the work authorization section of the short memo.

The judge implied that the Department of Homeland Security tried to hide the extension of work permits to three years. However, this is what Homeland Security’s website says in its Questions and Answers about renewals:

Q9: If I currently have DACA, will I need to do anything to receive the third year of deferred action and work authorization provided by the executive initiatives?

A9: The new three-year work authorization timeframe will be applied for applications currently pending and those received after the President’s announcement.

There was no hiding the ball by Homeland Security. This refusal to rule by the judge is nothing more than the politicization of the judicial process.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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