Texas asked a federal judge Wednesday to consider imposing a fine on the Obama administration lawyers who misled the court over President Obama’s amnesty, filing papers saying the Justice Department is still trying to hide details of how Homeland Security botched the rollout of the program.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is leading the lawsuit trying to stop Mr. Obama’s amnesty, also said the misleading and other errors — including approving 2,000 amnesty applications even after Judge Andrew S. Hanen issued an injunction — cry out for the court to babysit the administration, including making them prove that the illegal immigrants really are sending back their wrongly-issued works permits.
The filings came in the case that has halted Mr. Obama’s deportation amnesty, where the administration is pleading with Judge Hanen not to punish them despite having admitted they broke his injunction — inadvertently, they say.
But Mr. Paxton said the errors prove the amnesty is “so large and complex that not even [administration officials] have a full grasp of what their machinery is doing.”
“The facts regarding defendants’ compliance seem to be constantly evolving,” Mr. Paxton said.
The problem stems from the grant of amnesty and work permits to Dreamers under Mr. Obama’s original 2012 amnesty. In his 2014 expansion, Mr. Obama expanded the original two-year program to three years, and immediately began approving applications under those terms — even though his lawyers told Judge Hanen that no part of the new amnesty was in effect.
Two weeks after Judge Hanen issued his Feb. 16 injunction, the administration told the court that actually more than 108,000 three-year applications had been approved between November and Feb. 16. Then earlier this month the lawyers admitted that another 2,000 applications were approved after Feb. 16 — a direct violation of the injunction.
Judge Hanen hasn’t commented on the latest revelation, but was nonplussed with the initial admission, and demanded to know who in the administration had been part of the decision-making. The Justice Department has turned those names and other documents related to the botched rollout over to Judge Hanen, but have asked him not to look at the documents, saying they are protected by privileges.
Mr. Paxton, though, said in his filing Wednesday that the court has the power to look at those documents to get to the bottom of the problems within the administration.
He urged the court to find some way to monitor whether the administration is now complying with the court injunction — and even proposed forcing Mr. Obama’s aides to submit regular documents proving they are in compliance.
“It would be prudent to institute some mechanism to oversee defendants’ ongoing compliance,” Mr. Paxton wrote.
The errors have been embarrassing for the administration, which had insisted it was acting within the law. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson had personally assured Congress his department was complying with the judge’s injunction.
Mr. Johnson has since asked his department’s inspector general to conduct an investigation looking into how they failed.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Leon Rodriguez has also declared they have asked the Dreamers to return their three-year amnesty work permits and instead accept two-year permits — though it’s unclear how many of those have been collected.
Mr. Paxton said Judge Hanen should demand a list to see which illegal immigrants have complied with that request.
The Obama lawyers asked the court for more time to reply to the hefty penalties Texas was asking the judge to impose.
“Plaintiffs’ suggested options will require careful consideration and inter-agency consultation among the relevant agencies within DHS and their counsel to formulate an appropriate response,” the lawyers said, asking for a new June 3 deadline to give the judge their thoughts.