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Media Alerts - Arpaio v. Obama - D.C. Circuit
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August 27, 2015
  Arpaio v. Obama - D.C. Circuit
Headline: D.C. Circuit rules Arizona sheriff lacks standing to challenge immigration enforcement policies

Area of Law: Immigration; Administrative Procedure Act

Issue(s) Presented: Whether a county sheriff who claimed that changes to immigration policy would result in increased burdens on law enforcement in the county alleged an injury sufficient to confer standing to challenge those changes.

Brief Summary: Appellant Joseph Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, challenged two Department of Homeland Security policies setting priorities for immigration enforcement, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans ("DAPA"). Both deferred action on deportation of certain individuals unlawfully residing in the United States who were not deemed to be a threat to national security, border security, or public safety, in order to allow DHS to prioritize enforcement efforts against individuals who did pose such a threat. Arpaio filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking a declaration and preliminary injunction that DACA and DAPA violated the Administrative Procedure Act, the faithfully executed clause, and the non-delegation doctrine. The district court denied the injunction and dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that Arpaio's claim stated a non-justiciable "generalized grievance" and finding that his alleged injury was "largely speculative." The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed.

Arpaio claimed that his office would be forced to spend more money policing Maricopa County and running its jails because the changes in immigration policy would increase the crime rate, either because deferred action would act as a magnet drawing more undocumented immigrants to the county or because decreasing deportation would allow more undocumented immigrants to remain there. Because Arpaio's claim to declaratory and injunctive relief rested on predicted injury in the future, the court emphasized that he faced "a more rigorous burden" to establish standing. While acknowledging that increased expenditures on law enforcement in the future would constitute a concrete injury, the court found that the connection between those expenditures and DACA and DAPA was unduly speculative. Because the challenged policies applied only to immigrants without serious criminal records already living in the United States as of January 2010, any increase in the number of foreign citizens unlawfully entering the United States in the mistaken belief that DACA and DAPA would allow them to remain would lack a legitimate causal connection to the challenged policies. The court distinguished Arpaio's claim from the Fifth Circuit's recent decision in Texas v. United States, 787 F.3d 733 (5th Cir. 2015), holding that the state of Texas had standing to challenge DAPA because it increased the number of people eligible for Texas drivers' licenses by approximately 500,000, directly resulting in a substantial financial burden on the state, which spent roughly $130 on every driver's license it issued.

The court also rejected Arpaio's argument that he was entitled to a more lenient assessment of his concrete injury because he alleged a procedural injury stemming from a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. The court held that a plaintiff in a procedural injury claim must still show that the agency action was the cause of the injury, and that Arpaio had failed to demonstrate that DACA and DAPA increased unlawful immigration and that unlawful immigration in turn, led to an increase in crime. Finally, the court was unpersuaded by Arpaio's alternative argument that crime would increase in Maricopa County because fewer unlawful immigrants would be deported under DACA and DAPA. The court determined that the policies shifted deportation priorities to unlawful immigrants who present a threat to public safety and national security without any decrease in the overall number of deportations. If the policies were successful, the court concluded, they should lead to a decrease, rather than an increase, in crime in Maricopa County and elsewhere.

Judge Brown wrote separately to express concern that standing had become too restrictive.

For the full text of the opinion, please see

Panel (if known): Brown, Srinivasan, Pillard

Argument Date (if known): May 4, 2015

Date of Issued Opinion: August 14, 2015

Docket Number: 14-5325

Decided: Affirmed

Case Alert Author: Ripple Weistling

Counsel (if known): Larry Klayman for Appellant.

Beth S. Brinkmann, Benjamin C. Mizer, Ronald C. Machen Jr., Scott R.McIntosh, Jeffrey Clair, and William E. Havemann for Appellee.

Author of Opinion: Pillard

Case Alert Circuit Supervisor: Elizabeth Beske, Ripple Weistling

    Posted By: Ripple Weistling @ 08/27/2015 08:27 AM     DC Circuit  

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