The Obama Administration has told a federal judge that unintentional computer system mistakes were the reason why 2,000 extended work permits were wrongly issued to people in the United States illegally, and that it was not an effort to get around a court injunction against the President’s executive actions on immigration.
“I accept full responsibility for the failure,” said Leon Rodriguez, the Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
In a court filing submitted late on Friday night, the feds said once an injunction was issued in February by a federal judge in Texas, “USCIS immediately took a series of steps intended to ensure that the agency ceased its preparations to implement” the President’s actions.
But they also detailed how a series of internal computer system missteps had allowed around two thousand applications to go through, despite the court ban that was in place.
“USCIS discovered that it had erroneously failed to remove these cases from the processing queue,” said Donald Neufeld, who oversees the operations of immigration service centers.
“In retrospect, I believe that USCIS should have exercised greater management oversight,” Rodriguez stated to the court.
The court documents included a copy of a request from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to have a full investigation of the mishap by his agency’s Inspector General.
“My expectation for this Department and all its agents and employees it that directives will be followed immediately, without qualification or exception – particularly those that convey court orders,” Johnson said, as he asked for a review of the errors.
In his request to the IG, Secretary Johnson said he wanted the internal investigation finished by June 8, as the DHS chief said it is necessary “to fully understand” how and why U.S. immigration systems were unable to follow the court injunction.
The submissions are part of a legal battle over the President’s executive actions on immigration, which would allow some 4-5 million people now in the U.S. illegally, to temporarily stay without the threat of being deported.
26 states led by Texas have challenged the immigration changes, which were originally scheduled to go into effect on February 18.
The two sides are currently waiting on a ruling from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, on whether the original injunction against the President’s plans should remain in place, or be lifted.
Further arguments are also expected on the underlying issue of whether the immigration changes made unilaterally by the President are constitutional or not.