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By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., sought on Monday to overturn President Barack Obama’s executive action protecting up to 5 million immigrants without documentation from being deported.

Arpaio and his attorney, Larry Klayman, argued in front of U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington. The suit was filed last month.

In their suit, Klayman and Arpaio contend the administration’s policy change to defer deportation added to the burden of law enforcement, especially in a border state like Arizona. They allege the changes will allow more people to enter the United States where they will commit crimes.

“President Obama and others recite that the immigration system of the United States is broken,” Klayman wrote in a court filing. “It is unmistakable that the only thing that is broken about the nation’s immigration laws is that the defendants are determined to break those laws.”

Klayman is a conservative who has previously alleged that Obama falsely claimed U.S. citizenship, a stand that was untrue. Arpaio has long called for more border enforcement to prevent illegal immigration.

Under the Obama plan, the pool of immigrants who will be protected from deportation would be expanded. The largest added group are parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been in the country since Jan. 1, 2010, and they can request employment authorization and deferred deportation.

Federal officials can still prioritize the removal of those who represent a threat to security.

The Justice Department has argued that Arpaio’s theory of added danger is misguided. “This theory is speculative and unsubstantiated,” the Justice Department argued in its court papers.

According to media reports from the courtroom, Howell questioned Arpaio’s claims. The jurist said that programs such as those Obama announced last month have been around since the 1970s, according to Bloomberg News.

The president’s action has also been challenged by a coalition of 17 states led by Texas. A court hearing on that suit is scheduled for Jan. 9 in Brownsville, Texas.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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