A district court judge dismissed a legal challenge to President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration Tuesday, saying that the court was not the proper place to evaluate policy decisions.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, an Obama appointee, said that the plaintiff Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio did not show how the deferred action program for illegal immigrants caused him direct harm.
Arpaio argued that the administration’s deferred action program for illegal immigrants partially contributed to the over $10 million that the Maricopa County jail had spent in 2014 holding illegal immigrants, 35 percent of whom are repeat offenders.
More than half a million illegal immigrants have been shielded from deportation as a result of the administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), and the president’s recent immigration order would shield an additional 5 million. The program grants three-year reprieves that can be renewed, as well as work permits.
“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 her opinion. “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 president’s immigration order narrowly survived challenges from within Congress this month. Several Republican lawmakers in the House unsuccessfully tried to amend the omnibus spending bill with a clause that would defund the order. Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also raised a constitutional point of order against the spending bill in the Senate.
The omnibus bill funds the government through the rest of the fiscal year with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees immigration. The Republican leadership in Congress promises to defund the immigration order next year with DHS funding as leverage.
The sheriff filed a notice of appeal saying that he will pursue the case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The president’s immigration order has faced a series of legal challenges across the country. Earlier this month, a Pennsylvania district court judge gave a nonbinding ruling that the president’s immigration order was unconstitutional.
In a separate lawsuit, Texas and 23 other states allege that Obama overstepped his constitutional powers in a way that will only worsen the humanitarian problems along the southern U.S. border. That suit is pending in a federal district court in Brownsville, Texas.