PHOENIX – Civil rights organizations described Friday as a “political stunt” the lawsuit filed by the state of Arizona against the federal government for failing to enforce immigration laws.
Gov. Jan Brewer announced Thursday that she was filing a countersuit in response to the Justice Department’s suit aimed at overturning the Arizona law, SB1070, criminalizing undocumented immigrants.
“Arizona’s counterclaim against the United States is a political stunt designed to distract from the reality that SB 1070’s attempt to mandate racial profiling is unconstitutional,” says a statement issued Friday by a coalition including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the National Immigration Law Center, among others.
“SB1070 is a misguided law that puts Arizona out of step with fundamental values of fairness and equality, and has no place in Arizona or America,” the groups say.
The Justice Department’s suit against Arizona argues that the enforcement of immigration laws is the jurisdiction of the federal government.
A federal judge in Phoenix suspended some of the more controversial articles in SB1070, which went into effect last July 29, pending a final ruling in the case.
“Our message for the federal government is simple,” Gov. Brewer said Thursday at a press conference announcing the countersuit. “Use federal resources to attack the cartels who are breaking federal law. Don’t attack Arizona which is helping to enforce federal law.”
The Republican governor considers that the state of Arizona is paying the social and economic consequences of the federal government’s inability to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from crossing the border from Mexico.
For its part, the National Immigration Forum said that passing SB1070 has been a hard blow for Arizona’s reputation and the announcement of the countersuit will only make it worse.
It said in a communique that unemployment in Arizona is 9.4 percent, which is above the national level, and that the state is facing a budget deficit of more than $1 billion.
This is not the first time a state has sued Washington for matters related to illegal immigration.
In 1996, then-California Gov. Pete Wilson, also a Republican, sued the federal government for not enforcing immigration laws, but the case was dismissed.
In 2006, Colorado voters approved a referendum enabling the state attorney general to file suit against the United States for the enforcement of immigration laws that was dismissed the following year by a federal judge.
Paul Bender, a professor at Arizona State University law school, told Efe that Brewer’s countersuit has few possibilities of success, since the courts generally refuse to request a federal agency to apply a law in the way that someone wants it applied. EFE