It is no surprise that the implementation of this administration’s executive actions has run into a series of political and legal snags. But what is surprising is the administration’s response or overall handling of the matter.
In May of this year, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers disclosed that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had issued about 2,000 three-year work permits (as opposed to the currently authorized two-year permits) to illegal immigrants granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Technically, the issuance of the three-year work permits — an aspect of President Obama’s November 20 executive actions which expanded DACA — was a violation of U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s February 16 injunction issued in the case of State of Texas v. United States.
This admission came on the heels of another gaffe by DHS wherein DHS inadvertently issued more than 100,000 three-year permits before the February 17 effective date previously announced by the administration and the entry of Judge Hanen’s injunction. Due to what Judge Hanen referred to as cavalier attitude to correct its violations of the injunction, Judge Hanen issued an order last Tuesday requiring U.S. Department of Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson, USCIS Director Leon Rodriguez, ICE Director Sarah Saldana, CBP Deputy Chief Ronal Vitiello, and CBP Director Gil Kerlikowske to appear in court in Brownsville, Texas on August 19 to explain why they should not be held in contempt.
While the administration has declined to comment, USCIS has announced that it is requiring the 2,000 individuals to whom 3 year employment authorization cards (EADs) were issued after the injunction to return the EADs to USCIS. Specifically, USCIS sent two letters to affected DACA recipients. The first letter instructs the recipient to return the 3 year EAD if the EAD was issued after February 16, 2015. The second letter advises the affected DACA recipients who have not yet returned the 3 year EAD that the EAD must be returned by 7/17/15 and that failure to return the EAD without good cause may affect their deferred action and employment authorization.
As way of background, a coalition of 26 states, including the State of Texas, sued the U.S. government to prevent the implementation of the President’s Executive Actions on Immigration on the grounds that the executive actions are unconstitutional and would require the states to invest more in law enforcement, health care, and education. As a result of the lawsuit, Judge Andrew Hanen entered a preliminary injunction to maintain the status quo and permitted the lawsuit move forward.