By Andrew Zajac
December 22, 2014
The Arizona lawman who styles himself as “America’s toughest sheriff” proved quick on the draw in his latest clash with the Obama administration by hurrying to court to challenge the president’s immigration overhaul ahead of more than two dozen states.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is asking a federal judge in Washington today to suspend two of President Barack Obama’s immigration directives until a ruling is made on whether he overstepped his authority.
Arpaio, first elected in 1993 from Phoenix and its suburbs, sued the same day Obama said he would give a reprieve from the threat of deportation to as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants, triggering a showdown with Republicans who take control of the Senate in January.
Texas Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, who won the Nov. 4 governor’s race, sued with other state attorneys general in federal court in Brownsville, Texas, on Dec. 3 to block Obama’s plan. Those states are also seeking to temporarily block the most sweeping immigration changes in decades while a judge decides whether the president exceeded his constitutional powers. A hearing on that case is set for Jan. 9.
Arpaio is getting the first shot.
The 82-year-old sheriff has been a lightning rod for immigration reform advocates because of his aggressive tactics toward people suspected of being undocumented immigrants. His office has been overseen by a monitor since October 2013, after Arpaio was found by a federal judge in Arizona to have violated the civil rights of Latinos.
In April, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow ordered the sheriff to provide his deputies with a summary of the court order forbidding the department from using race or Latino ancestry as a reason to stop a vehicle or detaining Latino drivers and passengers only on the suspicion they are undocumented immigrants. The U.S. Justice Department accuses Arpaio and the county in a separate lawsuit of systematically discriminating against Latinos.
Arpaio has attracted attention for other actions, including requiring prisoners to wear pink underwear and investigating the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate.
In the immigration case in Washington, Arpaio teamed up with lawyer Larry Klayman, the founder of the advocacy groups Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch. Last December, Klayman, a frequent litigator on issues of executive branch authority and other topics, won a court ruling that the National Security Agency’s telephone data surveillance program is probably illegal. A decision on the government’s appeal of that case is pending.
Klayman argues Obama’s Nov. 20 executive order and an earlier set of immigration policy changes known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals illegally bypass Congress’s legislative powers.
The actions “are exercises of delegated lawmaking authority by the executive branch which must first go through rigid rule-making,” Klayman said in the complaint. “The president cannot simply announce new rules and implement them by giving a speech.”
The government on Dec. 15 filed papers asked U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, an Obama appointee, to throw out the case because Arpaio’s complaint is “a generalized disagreement with the federal government’s immigration policy” which “does not directly impact him.”
Arpaio’s claims that Obama’s directives “will result in a future increase in illegal immigration” are at odds with the terms of the policies, which apply to aliens who have resided in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2010, according to the U.S. filing.
A ruling in the case in may be the first on a direct challenge to Obama’s order.
On Dec. 16, a federal judge in Pittsburgh wrote that Obama’s order was unconstitutional. His comments came in a individual deportation case that doesn’t affect the president’s order.
The Justice Department said in an e-mailed statement that day that judge’s “analysis of the legality of the executive actions is flatly wrong.”
The case is Arpaio v. Obama, 14-cv-01966, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington). The states’ case is Texas v. U.S., 1:14-00254, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Brownsville).
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com
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