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Judge tosses Arizona's suit over SB 1070
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Judge tosses Arizona's suit over SB 1070

A federal judge has tossed out Arizona's counter-suit against the U.S. government over the state's SB 1070 illegal immigration law.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton dismissed the state's claim against the federal government over the law on Friday.

The decision "is frustrating but not entirely surprising," said Gov. Jan Brewer in a press release. "Remember that Arizona did not choose this fight. Our counterclaim followed the federal government’s almost unprecedented decision to sue the state over SB 1070."

Brewer had asked the court to order the U.S. government to take additional steps to control the border.

The feds responded by asking the court to dismiss Brewer's claims because judges shouldn't rule on political matters.

Friday, Bolton dismissed Arizona's counterclaims in the suit, saying they were political questions or otherwise not reviewable by the court.

Last year, Bolton ordered Arizona not to enforce many provisions of SB 1070, leading to a long series of appeals by the state.

Read Bolton's decision

From the order: "Arizona asserts the following five counterclaims: failure and refusal to achieve and maintain “operational control” of the Arizona-Mexico border (Count One); failure and refusal to protect Arizona from invasion and domestic violence (Count Two); abdication of statutory responsibilities (enforcement of the federal immigration laws) (Count Three); declaratory relief regarding State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (“SCAAP”) reimbursement obligations (Count Four); and declaratory relief under the Tenth Amendment (Count Five)."

Bolton dismissed Counts Two and Five because they involve issues already decided by binding precedent, she wrote in her decision.

Count One was dismissed because the state "failed to state a claim": "Arizona cannot challenge the sufficiency of the government’s ongoing, non-final actions by attempting to frame its claims as a challenge to agency action wrongfully withheld or unreasonably delayed."

Count Three was dismissed because, while the state "may disagree with the established enforcement priorities,
Arizona’s allegations do not give rise to a claim that the Counterdefendants have abdicated their statutory responsibilities."

Count Four was dismissed because "Arizona asks the Court to interpret the statutory framework for SCAAP reimbursements without asserting that the federal government has violated any right or explaining how a declaration by this Court would settle any dispute between the parties."

Brewer's statement

Today’s U.S. District Court decision to dismiss Arizona’s suit against the federal government is frustrating but not entirely surprising. 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.

Remember that Arizona did not choose this fight. Our counterclaim followed the federal government’s almost unprecedented decision to sue the state over SB 1070. Despite today’s decision, the core of Arizona’s counterclaim holds true: the federal government has failed in its Constitutional and statutory duty to secure the border, failed to protect the State of Arizona against the harms of illegal immigration, been negligent in reimbursing the state for its costs to incarcerate illegal aliens and pre-empted the state from protecting the health and welfare of its citizens.

Interestingly, neither the federal government nor the federal court dispute that the people of Arizona have been injured as a result of the rampant illegal immigration that our nation has allowed to occur. Instead, the court says this is a political matter beyond its oversight. When it comes to illegal immigration, however, the political process has been an unmitigated failure for decades. Arizonans deserve better.

This decision makes it even more critical that the U.S. Supreme Court hear our defense of SB 1070. If the courts won’t hold the federal government accountable – as today’s decision makes clear – then states like Arizona need clarity in terms of the authority they have to combat illegal immigration.

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