BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Thousands of undocumented immigrants are worried that the information they provided to sign up for President Obama’s “Dreamers” program now could get them deported.
Last month’s Supreme Court decision striking down parts of the president’s executive action means a Texas-based federal judge’s pending order for the release of 50,000 immigrants’ names and addresses still is a threat. The order could be upheld at an Aug. 22 hearing.
Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), said the order affects only some of the millions who registered for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“One of the things that the president announced in November 2014 was that, instead of two-year terms for the DACA deferred action, there would be three-year terms,” he said. “So, it relates to those who received three-year grants.”
U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville ordered the data released as one of several sanctions against U.S. Justice Department attorneys in a Texas-led lawsuit targeting Obama’s program. Immigrants’ rights supporters say the Supreme Court’s June 23 decision has increased the deportation risk for those on the list.
Saenz said immigrants who registered for DACA had a reasonable expectation that their names and addresses would be kept confidential. He said the judge’s demand has very little to do with the actual case before the court.
“It is intended as punishment for what Judge Hanen believed to be misconduct by the federal government’s lawyers,” he said, “So, the question is whether that’s an appropriate sanction on lawyers at all, and it quite clearly is not.”
Saenz said forcing the Justice Department attorneys to hand over the information is unconstitutional. If the order is upheld, he said, MALDEF plans immediately to appeal it to block any potential harm to the immigrants on the list.