Articles Posted in DOJ

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Today, March 30, 2017, a federal judge from the state of Hawaii extended a court order blocking the President’s new travel ban from being enforced. In a 24-page decision, Judge Derrick Watson of Hawaii issued a preliminary injunction bringing the President’s executive order to a screeching halt indefinitely. Judge Watson first gained national attention two weeks ago, following his issuance of a temporary restraining order or TRO, which prevented the federal government from enforcing all provisions of the travel ban for a 14-day period. Watson’s TRO was meant to provide temporary relief pending further litigation. The state of Hawaii asked the judge to convert the TRO into a longer-lasting form of relief known as a preliminary injunction, at least until a higher court could issue a permanent ruling. The President’s embattled executive order sought to prevent the admission of foreign nationals from 6 Muslim majority countries including Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Libya and Yemen, for a 90-day period as well as the admission of Syrian refugees for a 120-day period.

In his decision Judge Watson wrote that he based his grant of the preliminary injunction on the strong likelihood that the state of Hawaii would succeed in proving that the travel ban violated the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution which protects freedom of religion. In addition, the state of Hawaii successfully argued that absent the provisional relief, citizens of the state would be irreparably harmed. Attorneys for the state added that the state’s national economy would suffer in the absence of relief, and that its state universities would also be harmed by the President’s executive order in both the state’s ability to retain and recruit foreign born students and faculty.

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is expected to run a study to determine whether privately run detention facilities are unsafe for migrants. The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, has stated that the administration will evaluate whether or not the agency will end the practice of privatizing immigration detention facilities, issuing a recommendation by November 30th of this year.

The announcement comes following reports that private immigration detention facilities have unlawfully withheld proper mental health and medical care from persons being detained in their immigration facilities. Presently, the two major private companies running ICE immigration detention facilities across the United States are the Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group. Together these private companies hold lucrative state and federal government contracts. It is estimated that the Corrections Corporation of America has earned $689 million alone from its contracts with ICE dating back to 2008, while the GEO Group has earned an estimated $1.18 billion from these contracts during that same period.

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26762616905_3855617f27_zAs previously reported, the Department of Justice is currently facing off in court against a federal judge from the State of Texas, who has accused federal prosecutors of misrepresenting, and withholding information in federal court, related to the implementation of the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program that was scheduled to take effect on February 18, 2015, as part of President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration. All of that changed, when Judge Hanen filed a temporary injunction in court, blocking these executive orders from taking effect, just days before February 18, 2015. Judge Hanen is asking the court to punish federal prosecutors working for the Department of Justice by forcing them to attend mandatory ethics courses.

In addition, Hanen has requested that the Department of Homeland Security hand over the names, addresses, and other information of individuals who were unlawfully granted immigration benefits under these programs. On Friday, a group of undocumented individuals came forward, asking an appellate court to respect their privacy by not turning over their personal information to the State of Texas, and other interested parties. This group of undocumented individuals is currently being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC). Attorneys for the group are expected to argue before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in order to block Judge Hanen’s order.

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15531282194_c5c9b33b52_bToday May 31, 2016 the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an emergency motion to prevent a federal judge from the State of Texas from imposing sanctions on DOJ prosecutors, requiring them to attend mandatory ethics classes. The federal judge in question is Andrew Hanen, the same judge who issued a temporary injunction blocking the expanded DACA and DAPA programs from taking effect on February 18, 2015, as originally intended by the Obama administration. The case United States v. Texas has made its way up to the Supreme Court of the United States. An official ruling assessing the legality of the expanded DACA and new DAPA program is expected this summer.

Judge Hanen filed the judicial order after federal prosecutors acknowledged that they were not completely transparent in regards to implementation of the expanded DACA and new DAPA program. Hanen argues that he was assured that the government would not start implementation of these programs until February 18, 2015 when in fact the government implemented a portion of the program before February and granted more than 100,000 applications. After reading government briefs acknowledging this information, Judge Hanen claimed that attorneys for the Department of Justice were not only knowledgeable of the facts, but were guilty of misrepresenting them in federal court.

In addition to ordering sanctions on federal prosecutors, Judge Hanen has ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide the names of individuals who were granted benefits under these programs, despite not being eligible to receive those benefits. This move would require the Department of Justice to release the records of more than 50,000 people.