A federal judge in Pennsylvania has ruled President Barack Obama’s executive actions with respect to illegal immigrants as unconstitutional. This is the first court opinion that issues a direct challenge to President Obama’s controversial immigration policy changes. It is however unclear what impact this ruling could potentially have outside the civil court.
According to U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Schwab, “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.”
Attorney Arkady Bukh advises that this ruling is on the grounds that the President’s action exceeds prosecutorial discretion since it provides a process through which a broad group of individuals will be treated differently than others instead of being evaluated on a case-by-case examination. Judge Schwab also points out that these actions allow undocumented immigrations to obtain substantive rights.
Under the proposed changes by the President, up to 5 million illegal immigrants will be reprieved. President Obama has justified his execution actions on the grounds that Congress has so far failed to come up with comprehensive immigration legislation. However, Judge Schwab has refused to accept this argument as he believes congressional inaction still does not endow legislative power with the Executive.
Judge Schwab is not the first one to oppose the President’s decision regarding immigration. Approximately half of the nation has already signed a pending lawsuit against President Obama on this issue. This legal challenge is being led by Texas Governor Greg Abbott who has also stated that these actions violate the U.S. Constitution and federal law and is against the will of the American people. John Eastman, Law Professor at Chapman University has said that this ruling shows that President Obama’s executive action has failed its first judicial test.
Other states on board with this legal coalition include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
However, the Justice Department is not taking this ruling seriously. They have stated that the court has no basis to issue such an order and that the court’s analysis of the legality of the President’s action is completely wrong.