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Federal Judge Calls Obama’s Immigration Actions Unlawful

Dec 17, 2014

A federal judge in Pennsylvania issued an opinion on Tuesday declaring unconstitutional President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, which offer protection from deportation to millions of unauthorized immigrants. The finding had no immediate effect, and it was unclear how it might affect the president’s measures in the future.

Judge Arthur J. Schwab, of Federal District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, issued a memorandum in a case involving a Honduran man facing criminal charges over returning to the United States after deportation. Judge Schwab himself raised the question of whether the actions Mr. Obama announced Nov. 20 might apply to the case.

The judge found that the president had violated the separation of powers by creating a “systematic and rigid process” for determining which immigrants would qualify, which he said “crosses the line” to constitute legislation.

But Judge Schwab took no action against the executive measures, only ordering further hearings on the sentence for the immigrant. Some legal experts said it was unclear how the president’s actions were relevant to the case.

“The judge is clearly reaching way beyond the bounds of the case before him to engage in constitutional scrutiny of the executive action,” said Peter J. Spiro, a law professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, noting that the new policies had not yet gone into effect. “It involves a lot of judicial gymnastics for the judge to get to that question.”

In a different challenge to Mr. Obama, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a national class-action lawsuit against the administration on Monday over the detention of illegal border crossers who seek asylum. The authorities have held many asylum applicants while their cases move through immigration courts, with officials saying they hope to deter others from coming illegally. On Monday, Homeland Security officials opened a center in Dilley, Tex., to hold up to 2,400 migrants, many of them women applying for asylum. - To read more articles from the New York Times, please click here

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