May 31, 2016 / 4:35 PM / in 3 years

Justice Department asks for hold on court sanctions in immigration case

A U.S. Border Patrol vehicle drives by the 18-foot (five-metre) high rusty steel barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border at sunset in Brownsville, Texas September 2, 2014. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday filed an emergency motion to stop sanctions imposed by a federal judge in Texas that included mandated ethics classes for federal prosecutors, as part of ongoing litigation over immigration policy.

The sanctions were ordered on May 19 by District Judge Andrew Hanen, who ruled in February 2015 that President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration were outside the bounds of the president’s authority.

Hanen also ordered the Department of Homeland Security to prepare a state-by-state review of immigrants who were given three years of safeguards from deportation under Obama’s previous immigration action instead of two.

The case has been brought before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Justice Department asked Hanen to put a hold on the sanctions while it seeks a review from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Justice Department will ask the Fifth Circuit for an appeal of the decision, a mandamus order or both to block the sanction order.

In the court filing, in Houston, the Justice Department said it “takes with utmost seriousness the public trust committed to it to represent the interests of the American people in the courts of the United States, and insists that its attorneys adhere to the high standards of ethical conduct and professionalism required to carry out that critical mission.”

“The court’s order to turn over immigration records would undermine trust in the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to maintain the confidentiality of personal information, which is essential to its mission,” said Patrick Rodenbush, a spokesman for the Justice Department, in connection with the review ordered by Hanen.

Reporting by Julia Edwards; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Dan Grebler

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