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Story highlights

Judge Stephen Reinhardt calls Trump's deportation policies "inhumane"

"The government forces us to participate in ripping apart a family," he says

(CNN) —  

A federal appeals court judge slammed the Trump administration’s deportation policies on Tuesday.

Judge Stephen Reinhardt said it isn’t fair or just for the government to kick out a 43-year-old coffee farmer who built a life as a successful businessman in Hawaii. But he said he can’t do anything to stop the deportation of Andres Magana Ortiz.

“President Trump has claimed that his immigration policies would target the ‘bad hombres,’” Reinhardt wrote in an opinion published by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday. “The government’s decision to remove Magana Ortiz shows that even the ‘good hombres’ are not safe.”

Magana Ortiz illegally immigrated to the United States from Mexico when he was 15 years old, according to court documents.

“The government’s insistence on expelling a good man from the country in which he has lived for the past 28 years deprives his children of their right to be with their father, his wife of her right to be with her husband, and our country of a productive and responsible member of our community,” Reinhardt wrote.

The judge said he doesn’t have the authority to block the deportation.

“The government forces us to participate in ripping apart a family,” he wrote. “Three United States citizen children will now have to choose between their father and their country.”

The case

Magana Ortiz and his family could not be immediately reached, and his attorney didn’t immediately respond to a call from CNN requesting comment.

The case has been winding its way through the federal court system since May 10.

That’s when Magana Ortiz filed an emergency request asking a judge to block his deportation, Reinhardt said. Government officials had granted a stay of Magana Ortiz’s deportation in 2014, but reversed their position and ordered his removal in March, according to the opinion.

“In his time in this country Magana Ortiz has built a house, started his own company, and paid his taxes,” Reinhardt wrote. “Although he apparently has two convictions for driving under the influence, the latest of them occurred fourteen years ago, and he has no history of any other crimes. Indeed, even the government conceded during the immigration proceedings that there was no question as to Magana Ortiz’s good moral character.”

The judge

It isn’t surprising to hear the judge, a notoriously liberal voice, criticizing the Trump administration.

Reinhardt was born in New York in 1931. Former President Jimmy Carter appointed him to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1979.

Stephen Reinhardt has been a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals since 1980.
David Butow/Corbis/Getty Images
Stephen Reinhardt has been a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals since 1980.

And in 2012, he famously was part of the panel that struck down California’s Proposition 8 same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional.

This isn’t the first time the judge has taken a swipe at Trump. He also had pointed words for the President in March, in an opinion issued when the 9th Circuit refused to rehear the travel ban case.

“I am proud to be a part of this court and a judicial system that is independent and courageous,” wrote Reinhardt, “and that vigorously protects the constitutional rights of all, regardless of the source of any efforts to weaken or diminish them.”

His opinion this week is the latest instance of a judge critiquing Trump.

Last week the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s decision blocking Trump’s travel ban.

That case appears to be headed for the Supreme Court.

Trump and his advisers also haven’t been shy about criticizing the courts – particularly the 9th Circuit, which the President recently claimed was a place where his critics went “judge shopping” to get favorable results.

CNN’s Laura Jarrett, Sonya Hamasaki and Cheri Mossburg contributed to this report.