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Judge dismisses Arizona lawsuit over border

/ Source: news services

A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit by the state of Arizona and Gov. Jan Brewer that accused the Obama administration of failing to secure the state's border with Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton dismissed the lawsuit, filed in February, in a 22-page written ruling. 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.

Arizona alleged in the suit that the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security had failed to enforce federal immigration laws or gain control of the U.S. border with Mexico, and sought to compel enforcement.

The action was a counter-suit to the Obama administration's lawsuit seeking to overturn Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB-1070.

"Today's U.S. District Court decision to dismiss Arizona's suit against the federal government is frustrating but not entirely surprising," Brewer said in a written statement following the 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," she said.

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.