- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 28, 2015

The administration is fighting feverishly to try to keep a federal judge from riding herd on its deportation amnesty, saying in papers filed late Wednesday that while Homeland Security goofed in breaking a court injunction, it was an “isolated” incident and vowing it won’t happen again.

Administration lawyers said they should earn credit for self-reporting the breach of the injunction, which saw the Department of Homeland Security approve 2,000 three-year work permits even after Judge Andrew S. Hanen ordered a stop to the new amnesty on Feb. 16.

The lawyers blamed the violation on a technical glitch, saying it was an “isolated miscommunication not likely to recur.”

“While the government sincerely regrets the circumstances that led to that occurrence, these circumstances do not warrant formal compliance oversight,” the lawyers said.

Judge Hanen is trying to decide whether to punish the administration for the breach, which came even though officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, had testified to Congress that they were in full compliance.

In reality, the department approved more than 100,000 three-year amnesty applications between November and Feb. 16, which were already questionable in the judge’s eyes, and then approved 2,000 more three-year amnesties or work permits after the Feb. 16 injunction.

The administration has said it is canceling the three-year deportation amnesties and work permits and turning them into two-year permits instead. Officials said the records have already been changed in their systems, and they are asking the illegal immigrants to return their now-invalid permits.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that is overseeing the amnesty, declined to say how many illegal immigrants have complied with the request, citing the ongoing lawsuit as a reason for keeping that information under wraps.

Judge Hanen was stunned by the first revelation that three-year amnesties had been approved before his injunction, but he has not yet taken a stance on the more troubling admission that the government broke his injunction.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is leading the lawsuit challenging the amnesty, has asked Judge Hanen to grant limited discovery, giving all sides a look at how Homeland Security made its decisions.

Mr. Paxton has also asked Judge Hanen to step in and monitor to make sure USCIS is actually going out and reclaiming the now-invalid three-year permits.

The question of whether to punish the administration is just part of the ongoing legal dust-up from Mr. Obama’s amnesty.

Earlier this week, an appeals court refused to stay Judge Hanen’s injunction, leaving the program on hold.

Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said the battle could ultimately end up at the Supreme Court, but said for now they are going to continue fighting in the lower courts rather than appealing the injunction to the justices.

The next step is a July 6 hearing before the appeals court.

“We think that the case that we’re arguing in July may ultimately get to the Supreme Court — the challenge is that, if we were to appeal this stay, the decision that happened this week whether the government won or lost, we would still have this other argument to make, and people would not have the certainty that they need in order to benefit from this program,” Ms. Munoz said on MSNBC.

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