U.S. officials must defend the administration in person before a judge in Texas who threatened to hold the government in contempt for failing to fully block President Barack Obama’s immigration initiative.
Jeh Johnson, the U.S. homeland security chief, won’t need to be among them, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville ruled Tuesday. He previously said Johnson must appear personally.
White House lawyers asked to cancel the Aug. 19 hearing after officials detailed the agency’s extensive efforts to recover 2,500 immigrant work permits mistakenly issued after the judge ordered the program halted in February.
Hanen excused the most senior officials from personally attending but said he still wants to hear the government’s plan for recovering the remaining improperly issued credentials “in the very near future.”
Texas and 25 other states are suing to overturn Obama’s unilateral change to U.S. immigration policy, announced in November. The initiative is designed to shelter 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation and provide them with three-year work permits.
To qualify for the program, immigrants must have lived in the U.S. for at least five years and be the parents of an American citizen or have been brought here as children themselves. They must also pass a criminal background check.