Judge Arthur Schwab, who handles cases in the Western District of Pennsylvania, made the ruling in a case involving an immigrant from Honduras, according to Reuters.
President Barack Obama receives a hug from the owners of “La Hacienda” restaurant, Lilia Yepez, left, and Carlos Yepez, after he spoke this month on immigration in Nashville, Tenn. A federal judge just found his immigration action violates the Constitution.
Reuters reported that the decision will have no legal effect right away, and the Obama administration is arguing that Schwab had no reason to make his finding.
But the ruling is still a sign that Obama’s decision to protect up to 5 million illegal immigrants and allow them to work could be on shaky ground. According to the Washington Times, Schwab said Obama went too far in his effort to recast U.S. immigration policy, and intruded on the rights of Congress.
“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,” he wrote, according to the Times.
The Pennsylvania case involved Elionardo Juarez-Escobar, an illegal immigrant who was deported in 2005 but returned to the United States. When deciding whether to deport the man, Schwab questioned why he shouldn’t be spared deportation under Obama’s new executive action.
The judge said Juarez-Escobar appears to be “more ‘family’ than ‘felon,’ ” the judge wrote, according to the Times. Obama and other officials have said the goal of the policy is to focus on the deportation of felons, and not to use resources to separate families when they don’t pose any danger to Americans.
Many Republicans have argued that Obama went too far by exempting a whole class of people from immigration laws, and that prosecutorial discretion is supposed to be used in a case-by-case basis.