U.S. District Court Dismisses Sheriff’s Challenge to Obama’s Executive Action
On December 23, 2014, Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joseph Arpaio’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the United States and federal officials. Sheriff Arpaio’s suit alleged that certain immigration policies announced by President Barack Obama on November 20, 2014, are unconstitutional, otherwise illegal, and should be stopped from going into effect. The judge granted the U.S. government’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Judge Howell noted that the suit “raises important questions regarding the nation’s immigration policies, which affect the lives of millions of individuals and their families. The wisdom and legality of these policies deserve careful and reasoned consideration.” She said that the key question in this case, however, “concerns the appropriate forum for where this national conversation should occur.” She raised the issue of standing, which she noted ensures that courts act as judges rather than policymakers. “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,” she said.
Sheriff Arpaio’s suit challenged, among other things, the Obama administration’s program launched in 2012 known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The suit also challenged President Obama’s recent expansion of DACA and creation of a new program for deferred action for parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (DAPA). Judge Howell noted that the executive branch has long used “deferred action” to implement enforcement policies and priorities. ” Under long-existing regulations, undocumented immigrants granted deferred action may apply for authorization to work in the United States,” she added, noting that “[f]or almost twenty years, the use of deferred action programs has been a staple of immigration enforcement.”
- The court’s opinion
- The full text of a similar lawsuit filed by more than 20 states. That lawsuit is still pending.
- The Obama administration’s memoranda and a related White House address announcing the actions
- Additional memoranda are available at sites about modernizing and streamlining the U.S. visa system and establishing a White House Task Force on New Americans.