- Court rejects suit over Obama immigration moves
A federal appeals court Friday upheld the dismissal of an Arizona sheriff's lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration, but one judge on the panel expressed strong doubts about the constitutionality of Obama's moves -- now largely on hold as a result of other litigation.
Three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled unanimously that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio lacked legal standing to sue over Obama's drive to grant quasi-legal status and work permits to immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children and to illegal immigrant parents of U.S. citizens.
Judge Nina Pillard wrote that Arpaio's theories about how his office would be impacted by the programs (known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) were too speculative to allow him to press forward with the case. She said Arpaio's central claim was that more illegal immigrants would be drawn to the U.S. and jailed in his county because they believe they might be eligible for Obama's deferred action plans, even though they are not.
"Sheriff Arpaio's allegations that DACA and DAPA will cause unlawful immigration to increase are conjectural and conclusory," Pillard wrote. "Sheriff Arpaio's contention is, at bottom, premised on the speculative prediction that DACA and DAPA will create incentives on third parties to behave in
misinformed or irrational ways that would harm him."
Pillard also disputed Arpaio's claim that the new policies would result in greater costs for jailing illegal immigrants who are permitted to remain in the U.S. and go on to be arrested for crimes. In fact, she said, the programs were likely to reduce his costs.
"Sheriff Arpaio's prediction of an increase in undocumented aliens committing crime runs contrary to the thrust of those policies," she wrote. "The policies are designed to remove more criminals in lieu of removals of undocumented aliens who commit no offenses or only minor violations while here. To the extent that such predictions are possible, if the programs are successful by their own terms, the number of crimes committed by undocumented aliens in
Maricopa County should drop."
Pillard's opinion (posted here) was joined by Judge Sri Srinivasan -- who, like Pillard, is an Obama appointee -- and by Judge Janice Rogers Brown, a George W. Bush appointee. Brown wrote separately to emphasize that the court's ruling that Arpaio lacked standing should not be seen as blessing the constitutionality of the Obama immigration actions.
"The Sheriff's claims on the merits may well raise a constitutionally cogent point," Brown wrote. "Despite the dazzling spin DHS puts on the DACA and DAPA programs, a categorical suspension of existing law -- distinct from the case-by-case deferrals or targeted humanitarian exemptions cited as past precedent -- complete with a broad-based work authorization, arguably crosses the line between implementing the law and making it."
Brown also complained that the current state of the law makes it too easy for some executive initiatives to avoid review. "The generalized grievance theory and related principles of contemporary standing doctrine effectively insulate immense swaths of executive action from legal challenge. Our relentless emphasis on the need to show a concrete injury caused by executive action and redressable by judicial relief makes it virtually impossible to challenge many decisions made in the modern regulatory state."
In the case of Obama's immigration actions, those standing theories haven't prevented the courts from giving close scrutiny to his efforts. In February, a federal judge in Texas blocked Obama from implementing the new DAPA program and an expansion of the DACA program. The 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is currently considering whether to uphold or lift the preliminary injunction imposed in that case at the request of 26 states objecting to the Obama efforts. Whoever is on the losing side of the 5th Circuit ruling is expected to seek review from the U.S. Supreme Court.
- Jeh Johnson won't have to testify in immigration case
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson won't be getting dragged into court after all in a contentious legal case involving President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen had threatened to haul Johnson and other top Obama administration officials into court to explain why the feds continued to issue work permits this year for certain immigrants here illegally - documents that were barred by Hanen's injunction in February that put Obama's controversial executive actions on hold.
But since Hanen's initial warning, the Obama administration has taken dramatic steps to comply with the federal judge's demands to stop issuing the permits and to revoke the documents that had been mistakenly handed out. Apparently that was enough to let Johnson off the hook from having to appear before Hanen in his Brownsville, Texas, courtroom, according to an order from the judge filed Tuesday.
"The court releases all individual defendants from its earlier order requiring mandatory attendance," Hanen wrote in his order. "Nevertheless, the court remains concern[ed] about the individuals that still possess credentials issued in violation of the court's injunction."
Hanen made it clear that he was still insisting on an explanation from government lawyers on how the documentation snafus occurred at an Aug. 19 hearing, writing: "The court does not consider mere substantial compliance, after an order has been in place for six months, to be acceptable and neither should counsel."
The problems with the work permits, part of the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for so-called Dreamers, has been a secondary storyline to the broader legal fight surrounding Obama's immigration actions.
In a court filing earlier this month, the Obama administration detailed their aggressive push to retrieve the mistakenly issued documents. They mailed letters, blasted emails, sent text messages, and even made in-person visits to undocumented immigrants who had been issued these work permits
Twenty-two people who have these work permits never surfaced or replied to government officials, so their "deferred action status" - which shields them from being deported and gives them the ability to work legally - was cut off, the administration said.
But the filing also detailed yet another bureaucratic snafu. Leon Rodriguez, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said his agency only "recently" determined that another 50 work permits that should not have been issued under Hanen's injunction had been mailed out.
DACA, which was first announced in 2012, was expanded as part of Obama's November 2014 executive actions on immigration. The president also announced a separate program that would grant protection from deportation and work permits for undocumented parents of children who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
But more than two dozen states, led by Texas, sued the administration over his executive actions, arguing that Obama does not have the authority to grant such benefits - which could affect more than 4 million immigrants here illegally. The broader legal case is currently tied up in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, but many observers expect it to eventually land at the Supreme Court.
Aside from Johnson, other top Obama administration officials who had initially been ordered to court by Hanen included U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Leon Rodriguez, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldana, Border Patrol Deputy Chief Ronald Vitiello and Customs and Border Patrol Director Gil Kerlikowske.
- Beto O’Rourke: I’d ‘absolutely’ tear down border wall in El Paso
Former congressman, and possible 2020 presidential contender, Beto O’Rourke said in an interview Thursday that he would tear down an existing border barrier in El Paso, Texas, if given the chance. “Absolutely, I’d take the wall down,” O’Rourke, who represented the area as a congressman, said on MSNBC. The fencing that surrounds El Paso, which...
- Texas lawmakers propose funding border wall on their own
As Washington, D.C. debates a budget deal that would get President Trump barely 1/20th of the border wall funding he requested, and with significant strings attached, two local Texas lawmakers are proposing dipping into the state’s "rainy day" fund to finance the border barrier on their own.
- Four arrested for brutal beatdown of gay couple
Four men were arrested in Texas for brutally assaulting a gay couple after they left a gay club last month, police said. Cops made the bust after a tipster alerted cops to 22-year-old Frank Macias as a suspect wanted for allegedly pummeling Spencer Deehring, 23, and Tristan Perry, 22, in downtown Austin on Jan. 19,...
- Fox News @ Night – Wednesday, February 13
On Wednesday, Shannon Bream awaits the release of text from the border bill. Later, Shannon covers Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Elliott Abrams, the U.S. special envoy to Venezuela, clashing on Latin America policies. Plus, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas proposes using El Chapo’s assets to fund the border wall.
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