Judge Rejects Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Suit Over Obama 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 federal judge tonight rejected a lawsuit claiming the president exceeded his constitutional power in his recent executive actions on immigration.

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

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell wrote that "the suit raises important questions regarding the nation's immigration policies, which affect the lives of millions of individuals and their families. The wisdom and legality of these policies deserve careful and reasoned consideration." But, the questions raised by Arpaio and backed by conservative legal activist Larry Klayman "amount to generalized grievances which are not proper for the judiciary to address," Howell wrote.

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.

The White House praised the court for dismissing the suit.

"Judge Howell's decision today confirms what the Department of Justice and scholars throughout the country have been saying all along: the president's executive actions on immigration are lawful," White House spokesman Ed Schultz said in a statement tonight. "The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that federal officials can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws, and the actions announced by the President are consistent with those taken by administrations of both parties for the last half century."

Klayman, founder of the conservative legal group Judicial Watch, had urged 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 Monday's hearing on his motion that lasted more than an hour.

But the judge, an Obama appointee, ruled that the plaintiff "cannot demonstrate irreparable harm since the plaintiff waited two years to challenge the DACA program and because any harm to the plaintiff is likely to occur regardless of the challenged policies."

With reporting by ABC News' Steven Portnoy.