Judge rejects suit by Arizona sheriff challenging Obama on immigration

A judge rejected a lawsuit by Sheriff Joe Arpaio to overturn Obama's executive action on immigration

A federal judge rejected a lawsuit by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio seeking to overturn President Obama's executive action to spare up to 5 million immigrants without documentation from being deported. 

The Arizona sheriff argued in the suit that the new policy would place a burden on law enforcement agencies by encouraging more people to enter the United States where they will commit crimes.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington said Arpaio lacked standing to bring forward a suit because his argument was overly broad and did not show he or his department have suffered a direct injury as a result of the policy.

"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 wrote in a ruling Tuesday. "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 sheriff has filed a notice of appeal saying that he will pursue the case in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Howell said Arpaio did not show that Obama's decision to the defer the deportation of immigrants has led or will lead to increased criminal activity. 

She also criticized Arpaio's argument that the new policy would act as a "magnet" for new immigrants because the deferred action program applies only to immigrants residing in the country before 2010, and does not affect new immigrants who enter the country illegally.

Howell noted that the executive branch has used deferred action as a tool in immigration policy for over 20 years.  

"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," said Deputy White House Press Secretary Eric Schultz 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."

Arpaio has been one of the most vocal proponents of Arizona’s tough stance on immigration. A federal judge found in 2013 that his office had violated the constitutional rights of Latinos during traffic stops and immigration raids.

The president's action has also been challenged by a coalition of 17 states led by Texas. A court hearing on that suit is scheduled for Jan.9 in Brownsville, Texas.

Follow @jpanzar for national news.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
56°