Obama Immigration Actions Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Rules

A federal judge in Pennsylvania has issued a first-of-its-kind ruling, which asserts that President Barack Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration are unconstitutional, yet the broader impact of the decision remains uncertain.

According to Politico, U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Schwab issued the ruling in the case of Elionardo Juarez-Escobar on Tuesday. Escobar, a Honduran immigrant, was arrested for drunk driving earlier this year, and charged with unlawful re-entry by federal authorities.

Schwab, a George W. Bush appointee, quoted a number of public statements made by President Obama in which the limit of executive authority to change immigration enforcement was referenced. The ruling rejects a Justice Department legal opinion which asserts that President Obama’s action on immigration falls within the discretion of 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 38-page opinion states.

“President Obama’s November 20, 2014 Executive Action goes beyond prosecutorial discretion because: (a) it provides for a systematic and rigid process by which a broad group of individuals will be treated differently than others based upon arbitrary classifications, rather than case-by-case examination; and (b) it allows undocumented immigrants, who fall within these broad categories, to obtain substantive rights.”

Not appropriate for me to comment, but here’s key excerpt from the conclusion of this opinion http://t.co/R0ZEVh4kpx pic.twitter.com/iOSBKvRy2g

— Eric Messinger (@egmessinger) December 16, 2014

According to the Daily Mail, Schwab is the first federal judge to rule on the constitutionality of President Obama’s immigration plan. In a court filing earlier this month, federal prosecutors argued that President Obama’s executive order on immigration does not effect criminal proceedings.

“This policy…relates only to civil immigration enforcement status; it does not mention § 1326(a) proceedings and has no effect on criminal prosecutions,” they wrote.

“Modification of DHS policy to prioritize particular classes of unauthorized aliens in order to allocate resources for civil immigration enforcement does not limit the Department of Justice’s prosecutorial decision on the criminal referral in this case.”

The ruling has no immediate impact, and is unusual for a criminal case. As the Inquisitr has previously noted, lawsuits which more directly challenge President Obama’s immigration policy are pending in Washington, D.C. and Brownsville, Texas, with a hearing in the D.C. case scheduled for next week.

[Image: Getty via Politico]