U.S. judge throws out Arizona sheriff's immigration suit against Obama

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal judge on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit brought against Barack Obama by an Arizona police chief who called the U.S. president's sweeping immigration reforms unconstitutional, saying the plaintiff lacked legal standing in the case. Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied the demand by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for a preliminary injunction to halt the policies. Arpaio, who calls himself "America's Toughest Sheriff," filed the case last month, saying Obama had overstepped his powers by bypassing Congress and ordering the changes himself. Arpaio's lawsuit said the reforms, which eased the threat of deportation for about 4.7 million undocumented immigrants, amounted to an amnesty and would encourage more people to cross the border illegally. Beryl's 33-page decision said Arpaio did not meet the legal requirements to qualify as a person of standing in bringing the case on constitutional grounds. The biggest overhaul to immigration in a generation has set up a confrontation between the president and Republicans, who will take full control of Congress in January and have said the president had gone too far by imposing the changes. Obama has dismissed Republican accusations that the changes amounted to an amnesty for illegal immigrants. White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Howell's decision confirms that "the president's executive actions on immigration are lawful." An Arizona federal judge in May 2013 ruled that deputies of Arpaio's office had racially profiled Latino drivers. The judge ordered that race no longer be used as a factor in law enforcement decisions and appointed a court monitor to oversee Arpaio's operations. Arpaio has denied that racial profiling occurred and has appealed against the judge's ruling. (Writing by Eric Walsh; Additional reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco, David Schwartz in Phoenix and by Julia Edwards in Honolulu; Editing by Eric Beech and Ken Wills)