DHS emails obtained by an investigative watchdog group reveal possible collusion between Obama-era DHS appointees and a Soros-funded open-borders group involving a series of lawsuits from 2016 that sought to overturn an injunction against the former president’s DAPA amnesty program. The email-communications, going back to May 11th, 2015, took place just days after it was revealed DHS had been mailing out thousands of work-permits to illegal aliens in direct violation of the DAPA-injunction issued by Texas district court judge Andrew Hanen in February of that year.
The emails focus on DHS’s mass recall of the work-permits, a move open-borders attorneys would later claim in a mass lawsuit against the agency was a violation of administrative law. The organization that obtained the emails, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), says the contact the Soros group made with the Obama-appointees was likely key to the eventual lawsuit. IRLI is calling on Congress and the DHS Inspector General to fully investigate the matter.
IRLI, a non-profit law firm based in Washington, D.C. that’s long been investigating DHS’s violation of the DAPA-injunction, obtained the communications through a public-records request with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the DHS component responsible for issuing work-permits. The emails appear to show top Obama-appointees, USCIS Senior Counsellor Lucas Guttentag and USCIS Chief of Staff Juliet Choi, in direct communication with officials from United We Dream (UWD), a pro-amnesty and open-borders advocacy organization funded by George Soros’s Open Society Institute. Prior to his appointment in 2014, Guttentag was a well-known figure in open-borders circles, having founded and led the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project since the 1980s.
Both appointees can be seen communicating with UWD’s Lorella Praeli, a one-time illegal alien (later naturalized through marriage) who led Hispanic outreach efforts for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and is now director of immigration policy at the ACLU. The emails show Praeli reaching out to Guttentag and Choi, just four days after news of DHS’s admission that they violated the Hanen-order requesting inside information about the agency’s announcement. She asks whether or not the erroneously-issued work-permits will be retracted and “If so,…how many folks are impacted…?” Guttentag and Choi immediately decided to take the discussion offline, arranging to communicate with Praeli over the phone instead.
According to federal regulations, work-permits can only be revoked under a specific process, which arguably was not followed by the agency in this case, according to IRLI attorneys. They say that any information about how many potential plaintiffs were impacted and how they could be located would be crucial for mounting a legal challenge against the revocation. “Just receiving general information about where potential plaintiffs reside would be helpful to these groups, given the resources they have and the number of allies they partner with around the country,” says IRLI’s Executive Director and General Counsel, Dale Wilcox.
A lawsuit challenging the retraction did eventually follow. After the Supreme Court affirmed Judge Hanen’s nationwide injunction against DAPA in June 2016, UWD’s partner and former parent organization, a law firm called the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), filed identical lawsuits in New York, Illinois, and California, all on behalf of illegal alien plaintiffs they were able to locate who had had their permits revoked. Each of the suits, two of which are still ongoing (the other was voluntarily dismissed), charge that USCIS erred in revoking the permits. The claims were based on the agency’s alleged failure to follow proper revocation processes and the nationwide injunction being too “overly broad” and not applying to Texas and/or the 25 plaintiff-states only. Interestingly, the same group recently made the exact opposite argument in their suit against President Trump’s travel-ban, claiming that an injunction against the president had to have been nationwide due to the Constitution’s requirement that immigration laws be “uniform.”
Other emails obtained by IRLI appear to show a close relationship between UWD and Obama’s top immigration appointees, a fact IRLI has closely documented before. After their phone call, Choi tells Praeli that she and her colleagues “very much appreciate [her] partnership,” especially, she adds, “in these dynamic times.” Meanwhile, another Obama-appointee, Marina Torres, tells Praeli to consider the agency a “resource” for the group and that she’s “happy to assist.”
Elsewhere, the emails show Guttentag directly communicating with long-time open-borders group and Hispanic advocate La Raza, telling an employee he needed a “stiff drink” following the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to uphold the Hanen injunction. The two then arranged to meet in a Washington, D.C. bar.
IRLI is calling on the IG’s office to take a closer look at the matter. As Dale Wilcox observed, “Considering the anti-borders ideologues involved on both sides, and the highly suspect behaviour of DHS in their violation of Judge Hanen’s order, that there’s been collusion here shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. It definitely warrants a DHS inquiry.”