Not even waiting until President Obama gave his speech Thursday night, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio filed suit in federal court seeking to block the announced plans to allow millions of people not in this country to remain and work here legally.
The lawsuit, filed in Washington, claims that the new program as well as Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals are “unconstitutional abuses of the president’s role in our nation’s constitutional architecture and exceed the powers of the president within the U.S. Constitution.” And Arpaio said even if Congress has granted some power to the president to decide how to enforce immigration laws, these two exceed that delegated authority.
The lawsuit filed on Arpaio’s behalf by Larry Klayman, founder and attorney for Freedom Watch Inc., has a back-up legal argument.
Klayman tells U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell that even if she finds the president does have the power to enact a new regulation, he cannot just do it by fiat. Instead it has to go through the same process under the federal Administrative Procedures Act as any other rule.
“The president cannot simply announce sweeping new rules and implement them by giving a speech,” the lawsuit says.
And Arpaio said even if Obama has the right to defer deportation of some people in this country illegally, “there is no rational basis to grant them work permits also.”
Named in addition to President Obama are Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Leon Rodriguez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Klayman is asking for a temporary restraining order to block any action by the administration. He told Capitol Media Services the case should be before Howell before the end of the year.
There was no immediate response from any of the federal agencies.
But presidential press aide Eric Schultz, talking with reporters Friday aboard Air Force One as Obama went to sell his plan in Nevada, said the action “is will within the bounds of the executive authority of the president.” And he said the move is “very similar” to plans implemented by Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush.
Legal arguments aside, Arpaio took a shot at the president for claiming the program will enable federal immigration officials to concentrate on those who really need to be deported, like gang members and criminals, rather than try to deport the more than 11 million people in this country illegally. But the sheriff calls that a “false excuse” because the executive branch “has not requested additional resources to secure the border that Congress ever denied.”
Arpaio claims the announcement already is doing harm.
“It will stimulate a new flood of illegal aliens crossing the United States-Mexican border,” the lawsuit says.
“Many people will die in the desert attempting to reach United States soil as a result,” it continues. “Moreover, illegal aliens are being victimized by smugglers, charging them dearly.”
In seeking judicial intervention, Arpaio and Klayman are hoping to use the president’s own words against him.
Obama, in a 2013 interview with Telemundo, talked about the limited resources of his administration.
“What we can do is then carve out the Dream Act folks, saying young people who’ve basically grown up here are Americans we should welcome,” he said.
“But if we start broadening that, then essentially I’ll be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally,” the transcript continued. “So that’s not an option.”
Klayman has a long-time adversary relationship with the Obama administration. His web site says the “Obama-Clinton regime … is using the economic crisis as an excuse to turn our nation into a socialist Euro-style welfare state.”