The bizarre gets more bizarre in the Texas immigration case

(Norman Maddeaux via Flickr)

En español

There’s something happening in Texas that is a threat to justice — and it’s being perpetrated by a Federal District Court Judge.

Earlier this month Judge Andrew Hanen, who presides over the GOP’s attack on President Obama’s immigration executive actions, issued a bizarre order finding — on pretty flimsy evidence — that the Department of Justice lawyers intentionally mislead him about the issuance of 3 year work permits to DREAMers who had applied for renewal of their employment authorizations under DACA, the 2012 executive action for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children.

Now, keep in mind, the underlying case is currently under consideration by the United States Supreme Court. It’s important to understand just how rare it is for a district court judge to issue any orders in a case that has been stayed while the Supreme Court deliberates. I can’t think of another case where that has happened, but it’s consistent with the political nature of this case since its inception. Let’s hope Chief Justice Roberts is paying attention to this travesty.

Among other things, Hanen’s order gratuitously punished thousands and thousands of DREAMers who received 3 year EADs yet had NOTHING to do with any alleged misrepresentation in Hanen’s court. As Ian Millhiser outlined in a ThinkProgress post, Hanen ordered “the government to turn over the personal information — including addresses — of every single one of the more than 100,000 DACA beneficiaries that received a three-year renewal or approval. Though Hanen will initially keep this information under seal, he adds that he shall “on a showing of good cause . . . release the list or a portion thereof to” state authorities in one of the 26 states that sued the administration to halt DAPA and expanded DACA.”

As if that wasn’t strange enough, on that same day, Hanen issued a sealed order in which apparently revoked the admission of certain Justice Department lawyers from practicing before his court. The DOJ lawyers were then apparently removed from the court’s electronic service list — which transmits copies of all the judge’s orders to the parties’ attorneys so they know what rulings the judge has made. So, it appears that the DOJ lawyers, who effectively represent the interests of 5 million undocumented DREAMers and parents, have effectively been cut out of the loop and are not receiving notice of Hanen’s court orders.

How do we know this? This morning the Department of Justice filed an unopposed motion which asks Hanen to send them a copy of the sealed order. In other words, because they are not receiving notice of the Judge’s rulings, they do not know what the judge has ruled and which lawyers can and cannot appear in his court! Yes, you read that correctly. A federal judge has barred the United States Department of Justice from his courtroom. The DOJ’s interests in Hanen’s court are currently represented by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas.

The cornerstone of due process is notice and opportunity to be heard. Hanen’s behavior in the Texas litigation defies any notion of fairness or due process that I’ve ever heard of. His antics are beyond troubling. Hanen has shown inexcusable vindictiveness and anti-immigrant animus. It’s time for him to step aside from the Texas immigration case or be removed by the appellate courts.

A copy of the DOJ motion can be accessed here and is reprinted below:

“Due to the present uncertainty regarding which lawyers from the Department of Justice are no longer admitted to practice pro hac vice before this Court, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, files this request. As of May 26, 2016, at 4 P.M., the Attorney in Charge of this case for the Department of Justice has not yet received via U.S. Mail a copy of the Court’s Sealed Order, docket 348. Having a copy of the order will eliminate uncertainty on who can file pleadings and will allow Department of Justice counsel to proceed accordingly. Therefore, the Department of Justice asks that a copy of the sealed order be sent at the earliest convenience of the clerk via e-mail to Jennifer Ricketts 1 In its May 19, 2016, Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Court stated that, “[b]y a separate sealed order that it is simultaneously issuing,” it is “revok[ing] the pro hac vice status” of certain out-of-state lawyers. Case 1:14-cv-00254 Document 351 Filed in TXSD on 05/27/16 Page 1 of 3 2 or, alternatively, a paper copy of the order be released to an AUSA in the United States Attorney’s Office in Brownsville. Adam Kirschner from DOJ conferred with counsel for Texas and MALDEF on May 26, 2016, and they do not oppose this motion.
Dated: May 27, 2016
Respectfully submitted,
BENJAMIN C. MIZER
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General
KENNETH MAGIDSON United States Attorney
JOYCE R. BRANDA Deputy Assistant Attorney General
By: /s/ Daniel David Hu___ DANIEL DAVID HU Assistant United States Attorney Chief, Civil Division S.D. I.D. 7959 1000 Louisiana, Suite 2300 Houston, TX 77002 Daniel.hu@usdoj.gov (713) 567–9518 (PHONE); (713) 718–3303 (FAX) Attorneys for Defendants

(Update: Later this morning Judge Hanen granted the DOJ’s unopposed motion and ordered that that the sealed order be sent “via electronic mail to Jennifer Ricketts, attorney-in-charge for Defendants.”)