President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about immigration reform during a visit to Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nov. 21, 2014.
Kevin Lamarque—Reuters
By Jack Linshi
December 16, 2014

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that President Barack Obama’s recent executive actions to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation is unconstitutional.

Judge Arthur Schwab of the Western District of Pennsylvania found the actions violated the constitution’s separation of powers, Reuters reports. The ruling has no immediate impact but will give fodder to Republican lawmakers, who have criticized Obama as overstepping his authority.

Schwab had been addressing a case regarding a Honduran immigrant, Elionardo Juarez-Escobar, who pleaded guilty to re-entry in the U.S. He said he ruled on Obama’s actions because he believed Juarez-Escobar was eligible for relief under the policy.

A Justice Department spokesperson said Tuesday that Schwab’s ruling was “unfounded” and incorrect.

“No party in the case challenged the constitutionality of the immigration-related executive actions and the department’s filing made it clear that the executive actions did not apply to the criminal matter before the court,” the spokesperson said. “Moreover, the court’s analysis of the legality of the executive actions is flatly wrong. We will respond to the court’s decision at the appropriate time.”

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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