Obama administration immigration officials are blaming their violation of a federal judge’s order on a computer foul-up that granted 2,000 illegal immigrants work permits to stay in the country for three years.
By coincidence, apparently, it was a foul-up that was following President Obama’s executive action to find a legal status for millions of people in the country illegally.
“I accept full responsibility for the failure,” Leon Rodriguez, the Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said, according to Atlanta’s WSB AM 750 radio.
“The failure,” in this case, meant that in violation of a restraining order issued by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, the Obama administration granted some 2,000 extended three-year work permits to illegal immigrants pursuant to President Obama executive action.
Justice Department lawyers filed pleadings Friday claiming that the agency never meant to defy Hanen’s order.
“USCIS immediately took a series of steps intended to ensure that the agency ceased its preparations to implement” the President’s executive actions, the lawyers wrote.
Notwithstanding the steps the federal government took to comply with the order, a computer glitch threw a monkey wrench into the works.
“USCIS discovered that it had erroneously failed to remove these cases from the processing queue,” Donald Neufeld, who oversees the operations of immigration service centers said.
“In retrospect, I believe that USCIS should have exercised greater management oversight,” Rodriguez stated to the court.
Attached to the court documents was a copy of a request from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to have the incident investigated by by his agency’s Inspector General.
“My expectation for this Department and all its agents and employees it that directives will be followed immediately, without qualification or exception – particularly those that convey court orders,” Johnson wrote.
Johnson asked that the investigation be completed by June 8.
Twenty-six states, led by Texas and including Florida challenged the president‘s latest executive action on immigration, which would have prevented the deportation of and granted extended work permits to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants.
The states argue Obama has no powers under the Constitution to set immigration policy.
In the lawsuit’s short lifespan, the relationship between Hanen and government lawyers has at times been strained, with the judge even accusing the government of lying to the court.
If it weren’t for Hanen’s restraining order, Obama’s executive action would have been implemented beginning February 18.
Justice Department lawyers have since appealed Hanen’s order. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard oral arguments in the case, but has not yet issued a decision.
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