Judge Dismisses Arizona Counterclaim

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton recently dismissed a counterclaim filed by Arizona in response to the federal government’s lawsuit to overturn the state’s controversial immigration law, SB 1070.

After Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 in April 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice sued, stating the law unconstitutionally usurped the authority of the federal government in matters related to immigration enforcement. The law included controversial provisions, including a measure allowing police officers to request proof of citizenship status during routine traffic stops.

Arizona filed a counterclaim to the DOJ’s suit, alleging the federal government has been derelict in enforcing immigration laws and owes the state money for costs incurred as a result, including costs for incarcerating illegal immigrants.

In dismissing the counterclaim, Judge Bolton stated the method by which the federal government chooses to enforce immigration law is a political and not judicial matter, and the state of Arizona cannot sue the federal government regarding its alleged failure to prevent illegal immigration across Arizona’s borders.

Previously, Judge Bolton ruled in favor of the DOJ, blocking a number of SB 1070’s provisions. This prompted Brewer to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

Responding to the counterclaim dismissal, Brewer stated, “Today’s U.S. District Court decision to dismiss Arizona’s suit against the federal government is frustrating but not surprising.”

In August, Texas Governor Rick Perry sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, saying the federal government had not properly secured Texas’ border and therefore was liable for costs the state incurred in enforcing immigration laws. He requested about $350 million in reimbursement for detaining illegal immigrants. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a former Arizona governor, said she was sympathetic to the situation of border states, but the U.S. Congress must approve any reimbursement funds.