A federal appeals court on Friday rejected an Arizona sheriff’s challenge to the Obama administration’s deportation policies.
In a unanimous decision that still sparked some internal debate, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit concluded Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph Arpaio lacked the legal standing to sue.
“Sheriff Arpaio has failed to allege an injury that is both fairly traceable to the deferred action policies and redressable by enjoining them,” Judge Cornelia ‘Nina’ Pillard wrote.
Any effects of the challenged policies on the county’s crime rate are unduly speculative.
Judge Cornelia Pillard.
Represented by attorney Larry Klayman, Arpaio argued that the administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and related Deferred Action for Parents of Americans programs would result in more crimes, causing him to spend more money policing the county and running its jails.
The 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program stopped deportation proceedings against certain immigrants who had arrived illegally in the United States before age 16. The 2014 expansion added more immigrants, including parents of U.S. citizens. Taken together, the actions could shield an an estimated 5 million immigrants from deportation
Pillard countered that the sheriff’s allegations about higher crime rates “are unduly speculative” and that projected increases in the county’s policing burden “rest on chains of supposition and contradict acknowledged realities.”
“It is pure speculation whether an increase in unlawful immigration would result in an increase, rather than a decrease or no change, in the number of crimes committed in Maricopa County,” Pillard wrote.
Pillard was joined by fellow Obama administration appointee Sri Srinivasan and George W. Bush appointee Janice Rogers Brown in the decision, though Brown also wrote a concurring opinion in which she cast the Obama administration’s “prosecutorial discretion meme” as “constitutionally problematic.”
“Our decision holds only that Sheriff Arpaio lacks standing to challenge DACA and DAPA, not that those programs are categorically shielded from suit,” Brown noted. “Indeed, those programs are currently subject to challenge in a number of other circuits.”
In February, addressing a parallel challenge brought by Texas and 25 other states, a Brownsville, Texas-based federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush issued a preliminary injunction temporarily blocking the expanded deferred-deportation program announced last year.
In his decision, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen reasoned that the states had demonstrated they would be harmed, for instance, by having to shoulder the burden of additional driver’s license costs.