‘Fearless Four’ Dispute Texas Judge’s Order

     HOUSTON (CN) — Four undocumented immigrants are fighting a federal judge’s mandate for the government to file their personal data with his court as part of a sanctions order against Justice Department attorneys.
     Calling themselves the “Fearless Four” the immigrants are so-called “dreamers” who were granted three-year federal work permits under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
     The group’s attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union and National Immigration Law Center said during a conference call Friday afternoon they will file a mandamus petition with the Fifth Court in New Orleans on Friday, asking for the appeals court to stay the order.
     U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen on May 19 ordered the Justice Department to file under seal by June 10 the personal information of 50,000 paperless immigrants who were granted three-year DACA permits from Nov. 20, 2014 to March 3, 2015.
     “This list should include all personal identifiers and locators including names, addresses, ‘A’ file numbers and all available contact information, together with the date the three-year renewal or approval was granted. This list shall be separated by individual plaintiff state,” Hanen wrote.
     The Department of Homeland Security assigns A-numbers, short for alien registration numbers, to all residents who aren’t yet naturalized.
     ACLU attorney Omar Jadwat said a sealed filing doesn’t guarantee third parties won’t see the information.
     “There is still a risk, for two reasons. First, even sealed information can and does get disclosed without authorization (whether intentionally, i.e, because malicious persons have or gain access, or unintentionally). Second, the judge has said that he may authorize release of this personal information to the states if they ask for it,” he wrote in an email.
     Oklahoma resident Angelica Villalobos, a 31-year-old mother of four, is one of the petitioners asking the Fifth Circuit to stay Hanen’s order.
     She said during the conference call that Hanen has “made a name for himself by lashing out at immigrants like me” and that the judge was “handpicked” by the plaintiffs to hear the case Texas et al. v. United States, a challenge to President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration, because he has been openly critical about the Obama administration’s immigration policies.
     “If Judge Hanen’s order is honored everybody will think twice about submitting their personal information to the government out of fear politicians will make it public,” Villalobos said.
     Hanen was the only federal judge permanently stationed in Brownsville when the case was filed.
     Juan Escalante, 27, of Tallahassee, Fla., is another undocumented immigrant who signed on to the mandamus petition to the Fifth Circuit.
     He said he fears for his and his family’s safety should his personal data somehow end up in the hands of rabid anti-immigration activists.
     “In turning over the amount of information provided it was done so in good faith, I had the understanding that this info was going to be kept confidential, it was going to be secure, now we’re faced with a contradiction. A judge in Texas has undermined this goodwill we entrusted the government with,” Escalante said in the conference call. “Our lives our safety and our identities are on the line here, which is why I’m standing up and representing thousands of other immigrants like myself.”
     The two other petitioners are female Texas residents who chose to remain anonymous.
     The Obama administration implemented the DACA program in 2012, and modified it in November 2014 to increase the number of people eligible.
     The original DACA gave immigrants who came to the United States as kids, went to school and didn’t commit any serious crimes the chance to apply for two-year “lawful presence” rights to be free of deportation and obtain federal work permits.
     The modified DACA guidelines expanded the deferred-deportation period from two to three years.
     A Texas-led coalition of 26 states sued the Obama administration in December 2014 to block it from implementing expanded DACA and Deferred Action for Parents of American Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, a similar program that the Department of Homeland Security also unveiled in November 2014.
     Hanen’s sanctions order applies to undocumented immigrants who received three-year DACA permits and live in the 26 plaintiff states.
     Hanen stated in his order that he examined the case record and found that, before he issued an injunction against expanded DACA and DAPA in February 2015, Justice Department attorneys lied to him that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services hadn’t issued any three-year permits under the new DACA guidelines, when in fact they had granted more than 100,000.
     The Fifth Circuit twice upheld the injunction. The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments about the injunction in April and a ruling is expected this month.
     The Justice Department filed a motion to stay the sanctions order on May 31 and Hanen set a hearing for June 7.
     In another part of the sanctions, Hanen ordered all Justice Department attorneys who practice in federal or state court in the 26 states to take three hours of annual ethics training for the next five years.
     The government claims that complying with that training could cost it $8 million.

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