POLITICS

Judge orders Justice Department to answer allegations in executive action lawsuit

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, joined by the department employees, during a news conference in Washington, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015. A partial shutdown of the Homeland Security Department loomed at weekâs end, but no solution was in sight as senators returned to the Capitol from a week-long recess Monday to confront an impasse over the issue.    (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, joined by the department employees, during a news conference in Washington, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015. A partial shutdown of the Homeland Security Department loomed at week√Ęs end, but no solution was in sight as senators returned to the Capitol from a week-long recess Monday to confront an impasse over the issue. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The judge who blocked President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration has ordered the Justice Department to answer allegations that the government misled him about part of the plan.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ordered Monday that the lawyers for the federal government appear in his court March 19 in Brownsville. The hearing is in response to a filing last week in which the government acknowledged three-year deportation reprieves were granted before Hanen's Feb. 16 injunction, which temporarily halted Obama's action, sparing from deportation as many as 5 million people in the U.S. illegally.

The Justice Department said in court documents that federal officials had given 100,000 people three-year reprieves from deportation and granted them work permits under the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, which was not halted by Hanen's injunction. But the 2012 program guidelines provided just two-year deportation reprieves and work permits.

Obama's new immigration action would expand that to three years, and Justice Department attorneys had previously said federal officials wouldn't accept requests under an expansion of DACA until Feb. 18.

A coalition of 26 states suing to stop President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration alleges the government misled the judge about not implementing part of the plan before the judge temporarily halted it.

Hanen's injunction put on the hold the federal government's immigration actions regarding DACA as well as a program that would extend deportation protections to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for some years. The Justice Department attorneys have asked Hanen to lift his hold while they appeal the ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

In his order Monday, Hanen said that he will not rule on any other motions until after the March 19 hearing.

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