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Arizona sues feds over immigration issues

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Arizona sues feds over immigration issues

By Alia Beard Rau and Ginger Rough, The Arizona Republic

PHOENIX — Arizona is suing the U.S. government, claiming the feds have failed to secure the border and protect the state from "an invasion" of illegal immigrants.

Gov. Jan Brewer said the intent of the lawsuit is to force the federal government to protect Arizonans.

"The first and foremost issue we're facing right now is the security, safety and welfare of our citizens," Brewer said. "The federal government needs to step up and do their job."

The lawsuit was filed Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Phoenix as a countersuit to one filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against Arizona challenging the constitutionality of its tough new immigration law.

"Arizona did not want this fight, we did not start this fight," Brewer said. "But now that we are in it, Arizona will not rest until our borders are secure."

The lawsuit alleges that the federal government has failed:

• To achieve and maintain "operational control" of the border.

• To protect Arizona against "invasion."

• To enforce immigration laws.

• To uphold the 10th Amendment, which states that "powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution ... are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

"What we're seeking is to force the federal government to do its job," State Attorney General Tom Horne said, adding that the Obama administration is "actively" not enforcing immigration law.

Horne said there have been similar cases filed in other states over the years.

"We hope this one will be successful," he said.

The White House declined to comment and referred calls to the Department of Justice, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

State Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who was at Brewer's announcement Thursday, called the move a distraction from other issues and a waste of time.

"Governor Brewer should be focused on solving the problems in our own house," Sinema said. "We need Congress to act. The state of Arizona doesn't have the power to do it."

Sinema, an attorney, said the invasion allegation in particular is likely to fail in court.

"While we all agree the immigration crisis is a massive crisis, I don't think it qualifies as an invasion," she said.

State Senate President Russell Pearce, who wrote the new immigration law, dismissed criticism that the Legislature is focusing on immigration issues instead of jobs or the budget.

"This is about our budget," Pearce said. "This is about the health and safety of the citizens of Arizona."

He said he applauded the governor and attorney general for filing the lawsuit.

"The federal government has been derelict in their responsibilities," he said. "This is way overdue."


"Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: Those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave."

"...for the system to be credible, people actually have to be deported at the end of the process."

US Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (D-TX)

Testimony to the House Immigration Subcommittee, February 24, 1995

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"What we're seeking is to force the federal government to do its job," State Attorney General Tom Horne said, adding that the Obama administration is "actively" not enforcing immigration law.

That part won't happen. What they can do, is sue the Federal government for any costs incurred by Arizona associated with illegal immigration. They might have a case there, as there is some precedence for the Fed's reimbursing states for the costs of incarcerating, or detaining, individuals held under Federal jurisdiction.

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