Arpaio Challenge to Obama’s Amnesty Orders Under Fire at Federal Court

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio lawsuit contending the President’s unwillingness to enforce immigration law is causing his county to spend millions to detain illegal alien criminals was heard in the D.C. Federal Appeals Court this week.

During oral arguments, the judges seemed to claim they did not see how the President’s failure to enforce immigration law created a measurable effect on Maricopa County.

Since the lawsuit seeks to overturn Obama’s executive action on illegal aliens, the Court reasons illegal alien criminals would still be pouring into Maricopa County whether or not Obama officially gave them a green light or not and thus Maricopa County isn’t materially changed because of Obama’s orders. Arpaio’s attorney disagreed.

Klayman said it would be bizarre if the executive branch could escape a legal ruling on something like Obama’s deferred action programs by arguing that it is doing such a bad job of enforcing the law that it doesn’t matter.

“That’s heads I win, tails you lose — or the reverse,” protested Klayman.

“Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, presidents are not emperors,” Klayman declared, playing off a remark Obama made in 2013 when he was downplaying his own power on immigration.

“We have to preserve … our system of government,” Klayman implored the judges. “You’re our last line of defense.”

This question of standing for a local government to sue the federal government has been argued before.

Judge Janice Rogers Brown seemed most receptive to Klayman’s arguments, though she did not lean solidly in his direction. She pointed to a 2007 case in which the Supreme Court ruled that Massachusetts could sue the federal government over greenhouse-gas regulation because the state’s territory was allegedly threatened.

“Isn’t concern about public safety [problems arising from illegal immigration] at least equal to sea level rise taking a few inches off the shoreline?” Brown asked.

Brown also cited, approvingly, a ruling that Texas-based U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen issued in February. She noted that he found the Obama actions were not just prosecutor-like decisions not to pursue certain groups of illegal immigrants but actually conferred valuable benefits on them, like work permits.

Brown called it “not persuasive” to argue that “we can’t do what the statute says because we don’t enough money, but we can do the opposite of what the statute says.”

Unfortunately, two of the three judges, Sri Srinivasan and Nina Pillard are Obama appointees and are likely to rule in his favor.

However, even if the Obama Administration wins this case, it still has to contend with a suit filed by 26 states against his unilateral amnesty actions.

Right now, that suit has resulted in a Federal District Judge issuing an injunction blocking Obama’s executive action with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals set to rule on that injunction at any moment.