Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Sues President Obama Over Immigration Order

PHOTO: President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Dec. 19, 2014. AP
President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Dec. 19, 2014.

A lawyer for controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio urged a federal court judge today to stop the president from “ramming” new immigration policies “down the throats of the American people.”

Larry Klayman, founder of the conservative legal group Judicial Watch, urged Washington, D.C. District Court Judge Beryl Howell to issue an injunction blocking Obama’s executive actions, which Klayman called a “blanket amnesty.”

“The president does not have the right to take matters into his own hands and ram it down the throats of the American people because he thinks he's above the law,” Klayman told reporters after a hearing on his motion that lasted more than an hour.

PHOTO: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio addresses the media about a simulated school shooting in Fountain Hills, Arizona, Feb. 9, 2013. Darryl Webb/Reuters
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio addresses the media about a simulated school shooting in Fountain Hills, Arizona, Feb. 9, 2013.

Arpaio’s legal move does not appear likely to succeed.

Howell, a 2010 Obama appointee, seemed highly skeptical of Klayman's claim that "deferred action" is unconstitutional, pointing to what she called a “longstanding” practice of past administrations that have shielded immigrants from deportation.

She also openly questioned whether Arpaio, the Maricopa County sheriff, has standing to sue, suggesting the federal courts are the wrong venue for the immigration debate.

“Doesn’t Congress have the power to step in?” Howell asked Klayman.

Klayman argued for an emergency court order, citing the “irreparable harm” Arpaio’s department suffers because the federal government refuses to deport immigrants. Some of them, he argued, are likely to commit crimes in Arpaio’s jurisdiction, citing the sheriff’s contention that 36 percent of the undocumented immigrants who have served time in Maricopa County jail are repeat offenders.

“How is it that you can show any kind of irreparable harm, given it’s taken you two years to file a challenge?” Howell asked Klayman, noting the DACA program for immigrants who came here illegally as children has been in effect since 2012.

Howell said she would issue her written ruling “very shortly.”

Should Howell not issue an injunction, Klayman vowed to appeal immediately and said he’s willing to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

Klayman also told the judge in open court that Arpaio has been subject to bomb threats due to his public stance against illegal immigration and his recent vow to fight the president.

“In my view, Sheriff Arpaio is an American hero,” Klayman said after the hearing. “There are protests underway right now in front of the sheriff's office in Arizona that will result in more threats. Thank God he hasn't been hurt thus far."