Conservatives are ecstatic about their handpicked man, Judge Andrew S. Hanen's ruling against President Obama's executive orders on immigration shouldn't be celebrating just yet. As the NY Times and Kevin Drum highlighted, Judge Hansen has been a harsh critic of Obama and his administration's immigration policies for a long time and his own words paint him not as a judge, but an activist hater.
But at a hearing on Jan. 15, Judge Hanen said Brownsville, which sits on the border with Mexico, was an appropriate venue for the suit because its residents see the impact of immigration every day. “Talking to anyone in Brownsville about immigration is like talking to Noah about the flood,” Judge Hanen said.
In a long and colorful opinion last August, Judge Hanen departed from the issue at hand to accuse the Obama administration of adopting a deportation policy that “endangers America” and was “an open invitation to the most dangerous criminals in society.”
The case involved a Salvadoran immigrant with a long criminal record whom Judge Hanen had previously sent to prison for five years. Instead of deporting the man after he served his sentence, an immigration judge in Los Angeles had ordered him released, a decision Judge Hanen said he found “incredible.” Citing no specific evidence, he surmised that the administration had adopted a broader policy of releasing such criminals.
While acknowledging that he had no jurisdiction to alter policy, Judge Hanen said he relied on his “firsthand, in-the-trenches knowledge of the border situation” and “at least a measurable level of common sense” to reach his conclusions about the case.
Doesn't the judge sound exactly like Laura Ingraham or any number of conservative talk show hosts on AM radio? he didn't issue a proper legal ruling, but wrote an angry screed that you'd most likely see on Breitbart or the Washington Times.
I agree with Kevin Drum when he writes:
Judge Andrew Hanen so obviously hates both Obama and his immigration actions that no one is going to take his decision seriously. It's a polemic, not a proper court ruling. The case will continue its dreary way through Hanen's docket, but I imagine an appeals court will stay the injunction pretty quickly, and then overrule his inevitable final ruling in short order. The right-wing plaintiffs in this case may have thought they were being clever in venue shopping to get the case before Hanen, but it won't do them any good. It might even backfire, given just how transparently political Hanen's ruling is.
This story makes for a good headline, but it probably means little in real life. At most we'll have a delay of a few weeks in implementing Obama's immigration orders.