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NEW REPORT: Judge Hanen and the Nativist Lawsuit Against Immigration Executive Action

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In a New Report, America’s Voice Education Fund Reveals Judge Hanen’s Foray into the World of Immigration Politics and the Disturbing Truth Behind the 25 State Lawsuit

Today was the first hearing in the 25 states’ lawsuit against executive action, heard by federal judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, TX.  While there’s been much attention surrounding the legal substance (or lack there of) of the lawsuit, less attention has been paid to the man behind the gavel and how he came to preside over the case.

In a new report, America’s Voice Education Fund describes the nativist origins of the 25 state lawsuit and Judge Hanen’s questionable foray in to the world of immigration politics.   

Key highlights:

The Lawsuit was Born of the Restrictionist Movement.  It is widely believed that the Texas lawsuit was authored by Kris Kobach, the notorious anti-immigrant lawyer and Kansas Secretary of State who authored Arizona’s SB 1070 and advised Mitt Romney to run on the platform of “self-deportation.”

Washington Post article published shortly after the President’s announcement noted Kobach was already drafting a lawsuit and that Texas was interested in being a plaintiff. On December 3, Kobach said to “watch the news in the next month or so and you’ll see the cases being filed […] the pieces are being put into place to bring litigation against the Obama administration in various courts around the country.”  While Kobach is not a named counsel in the litigation, the case is part of the  core strategy of nativist groups he has worked with—such as the Immigration Reform Law Institute

Judge Hanen Is the Ideal Judge for Immigration Nativists: The Judge has a history of opining well beyond the scope of his jurisdiction, and an anti-immigration bent.  Clearly, the plaintiffs filed their suit in Brownsville for one reason—a friendly judge.  

In one case, after a defendant pled guilty and the “outcome was no longer a pending question,” Judge Hanen felt “compelled” to write a 4-page opinion criticizing federal immigration policy, without ordering anything involving the defendant (Source: U.S. v. Cabrera,711 F.Supp.2d 736 (S.D. Tex. May 4, 2010)). 

In another case, when a Salvadoran criminal defendant who received Convention Against Torture (CAT) protection against deportation applied to Judge Hanen to relocate within the United States, a routine matter, Judge Hanen issued a 24-page opinion criticizing the US’ implementation of CAT, while conceding he had “no jurisdiction” over the policy (Source: U.S. v. Ramirez, No. 07-cr-041, 2014 WL 3843853 (S.D.Tex. Aug. 1, 2014)).  

The Washington Times’ Stephen Dinan recently declared, ‘the states challenging President Obama’s deportation amnesty have already won the first round in court’ when reporting that Judge Hanen was assigned the case.  

There Are Lots of Good Reasons (and Reasoned People) Who Oppose this Political Charade: Immediately after its filing, the lawsuit received wide criticism.  David Leopold, former President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said the legal complaint “reads more like a factually challenged press release than a well-reasoned legal complaint.”

Lynne H. Rambo, Professor of Law, Texas A&M University School of Law recently wrote that the states bringing this lawsuit have larger obstacles to clear before the judge should even address the merits.  Namely, they do not have “standing” to proceed in federal court. 

Even some Attorneys General criticized their own states’ Governors for getting involved in this frivolous lawsuit. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood described the lawsuit as “governor-driven litigation which involves policy and drags us into litigation we might not initiate on our own.”

And North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said, “I am concerned that a partisan lawsuit adds to the divisiveness that has prevented meaningful immigration reform in the first place.”   A dozen states and numerous law enforcement leaders have filed “friend of the court” briefs in the Texas case outlining their vociferous opposition.  

Read the full report, “A Coordinated Attack: Judge Hanen and the Nativist Lawsuit Against DAPA and DACA.”