A judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday that parts of US President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration [JURIST report] are unconstitutional. Judge Arthur Schwab found that the president’s action exceeds the scope of executive authority: “The court holds that the Executive Action is unconstitutional because it violates the separation of powers and the Take Care Clause of the Constitution.” The ruling came in a case of an individual who had been deported and then reentered the US illegally. The court sought to apply the new policies to the defendant’s case and ordered further briefing on the matter.
This is the first court decision on the president’s executive action. However, earlier this month a coalition of 17 US states filed suit challenging the action [JURIST report]. Obama’s reform, announced last month, allows immigrants that have been in the US for more than five years or have children who are citizens to register and pass a criminal background check in order to stay in the country. The reform also requires that immigrants to pay their fair share in taxes. The immigrants will also not be allowed to vote nor will they qualify for certain federal benefits, such as health care coverage. Obama also stated that he would add additional resources at the border in order to stem the crossing of immigrants and return those that have crossed. The president also stated the reform would make it easier for highly skilled graduates and entrepreneurs to stay in the US and contribute.