Brewer's case against feds dismissed
Friday, October 21, 2011
PHOENIX (AP) — A federal judge Friday dismissed Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's lawsuit that accused the Obama administration of failing to enforce immigration laws or maintain control of her state's border with Mexico.
The dismissal by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton comes in a counter-lawsuit filed by Brewer as part of the Justice Department's challenge to Arizona's controversial immigration enforcement law.
The Republican governor was seeking a court order that would require the federal government to take extra steps, such as more border fencing, to protect Arizona until the border is controlled.
Bolton said Brewer's claim that Washington has failed to protect Arizona from an "invasion" of illegal immigrants was a political question that isn't appropriate for the court to decide.
The judge also barred some of Brewer's claims because the issues were dealt with in a 1994 case by Arizona and can't be litigated again. Court precedent also requires the dismissal of some claims, Bolton wrote.
"While Arizona may disagree with the established enforcement priorities, Arizona's allegations do not give rise to a claim that the counter-defendants (the federal government) have abdicated their statutory responsibilities," Bolton wrote.
Brewer said in a written statement that she wasn't surprised by Bolton's ruling.
"It is but the latest chapter in a story that Arizonans know all too well: The federal government ignores its constitutional and statutory duty to secure the border. Federal courts avert their eyes. American citizens pay the price," Brewer said.
The Department of Justice issued a one-sentence statement saying it was pleased by Bolton's decision.
The DOJ sued the state of Arizona last year in a bid to invalidate Arizona's immigration enforcement law. Bolton put key parts of the law on hold, such as a provision requiring police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person's immigration status if officers had "reasonable suspicion" the person was in the country illegally.
Brewer has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her appeal of Bolton's ruling.
Brewer's attorneys had argued that her lawsuit was necessary to help bring relief to Arizona from the burdens of being a busy illegal entry point into the country.
The governor's lawsuit didn't seek a lump-sum award, but rather asked for policy changes in the way the federal government reimburses states for the costs of jailing illegal immigrants who are convicted of state crimes. Such changes would have given the state more money.
Justice Department lawyers, who asked the judge to throw out the lawsuit, argued successfully that federal court isn't the right place to consider the political questions raised by Brewer.
The judge also agreed with their contention that several claims by the governor should be thrown out because a court rejected similar legal claims in a 1994 case brought by Arizona, and an appeals court decision prohibits Brewer from moving forward with her case.
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