Who Is The South Texas Judge That Halted The President's Immigration Action?

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U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen

Within walking distance of the Rio Grande, a Brownsville-based federal judge late Monday night ordered a temporary injunction against President Barack Obama's executive immigration actions that would have allowed roughly 5 million undocumented immigrants to start applying Wednesday for extended stays and work visas.

The news ignited on social media after the 123-page opinion was filed at around 11:30 p.m. and by Tuesday morning, headlines splashed with the name Andrew S. Hanen.

Hanen is a U.S. District Judge appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1992, though the nomination lapsed. But the ever present Bush family was at work and in 2002 President George W. Bush appointed Hanen to the position again, and this time he was unanimously approved for the spot by the United States Senate.

This latest ruling is in favor of Texas and 25 other states that brought suit against Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) programs. The preliminary injunction does not stop the lawsuit, however, as Hanen also said the suit should go forward. According to Hanen, the states would suffer harm if the suit continued without the injunction.

And to be sure, Hanen's ruling is controversial, but it's also not the first time one of his rulings has rocketed to prominence in the national conversation.

In 2013, Hanen issued a ruling accusing United States Custom and Border Protection officials of reuniting undocumented children crossing the Rio Grande with parents living in the country illegally.

In that case, Border Patrol agents caught a smuggler with a 10-year-old girl whose mother paid the smuggler. The agents delivered the child to its mother who was known to be living illegally in Virginia, the Washington Times reported.

“The DHS, instead of enforcing our border security laws, actually assisted the criminal conspiracy in achieving its illegal goals,” the judge said, according to the Washington Times report.

In addition to presiding over a civil docket, Hanen also oversees immigration and criminal cases, including high-profile criminal cases. Just over a year ago, Hanen sentenced former Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos to 13 years in prison for racketeering. Villalobos was one of at least a half-dozen Cameron County officials, including a former state legislator, who were convicted in a courtroom cash-for-favors scheme.

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