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Federal judge: Obama oversteps power with immigration actions

Published in Blog on July 18, 2017 by Convention Of States Project

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A federal judge has found parts of President Obama's immigration executive actions unconstitutional, in an opinion delivered as part of a separate immigration case not directly tied to the policy changes.

The opinion filed Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Schwab, in Pennsylvania, still marks the first court opinion to tackle Obama's immigration announcement. He said Obama's immigration actions are invalid and effectively count as "legislation" from the Executive Branch.  

"President Obama's unilateral legislative action violates the separation of powers provided for in the United States Constitution as well as the Take Care Clause, and therefore, is unconstitutional," the judge wrote.

The opinion, though, is unique in that it did not come in response to a challenge to Obama's immigration policy announcement. It is unclear what impact, if any, the opinion might have other than to rally critics and fuel momentum behind other lawsuits.

Rather, Schwab issued his opinion in response to a criminal case against Honduran illegal immigrant Elionardo Juarez-Escobar, who was previously deported in 2005 -- and was caught in the U.S. again earlier this year.

He already has pleaded guilty to "re-entry of a removed alien," but the court subsequently examined the impact of Obama's immigration actions on the case.

For that review, Schwab left open whether the actions might apply to Juarez-Escobar but determined the executive actions themselves were unconstitutional.

He wrote that the action goes beyond so-called "prosecutorial discretion" -- which is the "discretion" the administration cites in determining whether to pursue deportation against illegal immigrants.

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