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Court throws out Arizona sheriff's immigration policy challenge

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Friday threw out a lawsuit brought by an Arizona sheriff who argued that President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration were unconstitutional.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a district court judge's finding that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio lacked standing to sue, a provision in U.S. law that means he has to prove he has been directly harmed.

He claimed his office had been injured by Obama's November 2014 orders that are designed to ease the threat of deportation for about 4.7 million undocumented immigrants.

Judge Nina Pillard, writing on behalf of a three-judge panel, said Arpaio's claims "rest on speculation beyond that permitted" by the court's precedents.

The Obama administration provisions would give temporary legal status and work permits to eligible immigrants.

Arpaio, a longtime Republican firebrand on immigration, has had several actions stymied by the courts this year.

In April, he admitted to civil contempt charges in a Phoenix court after failing to comply with several court orders banning his police force from racially profiling immigrants.

The Supreme Court in June also upheld a 2014 appeals court ruling that struck down an Arizona law that denied bail to illegal immigrants charged with certain felonies.

Obama's executive actions are currently on ice, after a Texas judge ruled against his administration in February.

That more substantive challenge brought by 26 states, led by Republican bastion Texas, will be heard by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in July and could ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.

Republicans have brought a swath of lawsuits against administration officials on immigration and Obama's signature healthcare law over the past year, aiming to curb what they view as executive overreach.

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