U.S. Fifth Circuit - The FindLaw 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Judge Hanen Now Wants the Personal Info of Thousands of Immigrants

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen first started making national headlines when he blocked President Obama's immigration reform plan, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, last year. But while that decision is now before the Supreme Court, Judge Hanen isn't quite ready to let go. Last month, he put himself in charge of ethics retraining for all Department of Justice attorneys practicing in any of the 26 states involved in the suit.

And now he's seeking to collect the names and addresses of more than 50,000 undocumented immigrants in those states -- something civil rights lawyers moved rapidly to stop.

Hanen Wants "All Available Contact Information" of Undocumented Immigrants

Hanen's desire to collect the names and addresses of immigrants stems from the same brouhaha that caused him to take over DOJ ethics training. Hanen believes that government lawyers lied to him about whether they knew that over 100,000 immigrants nationwide had mistakenly been given DACA permits. (DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; it is the other half to DAPA, the program Hanen halted, and was not affected by Hanen's DAPA injunction.)

Hanen now wants the feds to turn over the names, addresses, and "all available contact information" of the 50,000 or so individuals who received those DACA permits in the 26 states that are involved in the suit.

The records, which Hanen wants delivered by June 10th, would be kept under seal, but could be shared with law enforcement agencies on the showing of good cause.

Hanen Halts His Hunt

The National Immigration Law Center, the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, and the ACLU of Texas moved quickly to block Hanen's order. They filed a writ of mandamus to the Fifth Circuit, seeking to halt Hanen's information gathering.

"Judge Hanen unfairly and unnecessarily dragged a group of blameless individuals into this politically driven lawsuit, potentially compromising their privacy and safety -- with no legal justification," said Karen Tumlin, legal director of the NILC.

The writ was filed on behalf of four teenagers who have benefited from DACA but who fear that their information might be misused by anti-immigration politicians or law enforcement agencies.

The Fifth Circuit did not waste time in responding -- but its response didn't do much. In a brief, two-paragraph order, the Fifth Circuit ordered "that the filing of these motions before us should not be construed to interfere with the district court's conduct of a hearing tomorrow or its issuance of a ruling on a motion to stay." That's not exactly a surfeit of guidance.

But the Fifth Circuit might not be needed just yet. On Tuesday, Hanen agreed on his own to stay his order until he holds further hearings in late August.

Related Resources: