Judge rejects challenge to Obama's executive action on immigration
© Getty Images

A federal judge late Tuesday gave the Obama administration an early Christmas present by tossing out a challenge to President Obama’s immigration executive actions filed by controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

ADVERTISEMENT

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell warned in an opinion that while Arpaio’s lawsuit brings up important issues, the sheriff couldn’t file the suit because he hasn’t suffered direct harm from Obama’s executive actions.

“The role of the Judiciary is to resolve cases and controversies properly brought by parties with a concrete and particularized injury— not to engage in policymaking better left to the political branches,” Howell said.

“The plaintiff’s case raises important questions regarding the impact of illegal immigration on this Nation, but the questions amount to generalized grievances which are not proper for the Judiciary to address."

The case centers on Obama’s decision in November to provide work permits and delay deportations for certain immigrants in the country illegally. Obama faced significant criticism on the right for these actions, which many Republicans framed as an abuse of power.

“Judge Howell’s decision today confirms what the Department of Justice and scholars throughout the country have been saying all along: the President’s executive actions on immigration are lawful,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement. “The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that federal officials can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws, and the actions announced by the President are consistent with those taken by administrations of both parties for the last half century. The court correctly dismissed Sheriff Arpaio’s lawsuit."

Arpaio is an outspoken critic of Obama and has a controversial reputation as “America’s toughest sheriff,” a nickname he often uses to refer to himself. He previously held a public investigation into Obama’s birth certificate, claiming it to be false. He’s also faced a number of lawsuits during his tenure as sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, including abuse of power and racial profiling.

Howell’s decision went on to note that Arpaio has no authority to enforce national immigration laws — he’s a local sheriff — and that his alleged harm is “largely speculative.” Arpaio argued that the president’s actions could create a “magnet” that draws undocumented immigrants into his county, but Howell dismissed that claim because the actions don’t apply to new immigrants.

Texas Gov.-elect and Greg Abbott (R) is leading a coalition of more than 20 states in another federal challenge against Obama’s immigration actions. And a federal judge in a deportation case also found the actions unconstitutional, although that may not have a direct impact on the policies because the criminal case isn’t directly related to the president's orders.