Immigrants attend a workshop for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), on Feb. 18, 2015 in New York City. The immigrant advocacy group Make the Road New York holds weekly workshops to help immigrants get legal status under DACA to work in the United States. An expansion of the national program, scheduled for this week, was frozen by a ruling from a Texas federal judge. The Obama Administration plans to appeal the ruling and, if sussessful, DACA would allow legalization of up to two million immigrants who entered the United States before they were age 16.
Federal Judge Andrew Hanen this week delivered a temporary delay to President Barack Obama’s deferred action programs, which would affect approximately 4.9 million undocumented immigrants. Hanen’s judicial history, however, has resulted in mixed opinions even ahead of his decision on Feb. 16.
Hanen has received recognition for his temporary injunction ruling on the Obama administration to implement the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs. The DACA and DAPA deferred action programs would grant eligible undocumented immigrants the opportunity to avoid deportation for three-renewable years. His ruling went in favor of 26 U.S. states, led by Texas, who have sought to block Obama’s immigration executive actions.
According to Hanen, the temporary injunction was granted due to the defendants — referring to the U.S. federal government — not complying with the Administrative Procedure Act. The judge has allowed for the U.S. to file an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court. The temporary injunction could also be lifted once Hanen delivers his final decision on the lawsuit, until then, DACA and DAPA will be delayed.
Hanen, originally from Elgin, Illinois, serves as a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for Southern District of Texas, located in Brownsville. President George W. Bush nominated him for the role on Jan. 23, 2002, reportedly following the recommendation from then-U.S. Republican Sens. Kay Bailey-Hutchinson and Phil Gramm of Texas. He was confirmed for the role on May 9, 2002, with a 97-0 vote in the U.S. Senate.
Hanen’s legal experience includes as a briefing attorney to Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Joe Greenhill in 1978 and a private practice between 1979 and 2002.
The judge has been considered as a “well-liked conservative” but with libertarian aspects. According to Time, Hanen has made donations to Republican candidates during the 1990s, including to Sen. Gramm. President George H.W. Bush had nominated him for a federal judicial role in 1992, but he was never confirmed.
The Los Angeles Times acknowledged Hanen hears cases in Brownsville, located in the Rio Grande Valley, an area that received notoriety for the influx of undocumented immigrant families from Central America and Mexico.
In regards to border security, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sought to build a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border in 2008, but Hanen’s process slowed DHS’ bid for construction due to concerns about land property. He also handled an immigration case when federal authorities released an El Salvador national despite his criminal conviction. As America’s Voice Education Fund noted, Hanen felt “compelled” to write a four-page opinion criticizing the federal immigration policy, without ordering anything involving the Salvadoran immigrant.
For the temporary injunction on the deferred action programs, Hanen’s order halted the U.S. agencies, departments, officers and select individuals from implementing “any and all aspects or phases” of the DACA expansion or DAPA. He also told DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson — whose department manages the three federal immigration agencies including the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which handles the DACA and DAPA application process — to not move forward with the executive actions until further notice.
Obama and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest have confirmed on Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Justice will file an appeal against Hanen’s ruling. The expanded DACA program was scheduled to rollout on Feb. 18, while DAPA was projected to start its application process in mid-to-late May.
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