State Capitol News
2:33 pm
Thu July 28, 2011

No Legal Basis for Bid By State to Order Obama Administration to do More to Secure Border

Phoenix, AZ – Assistant Attorney General Michael Tryon said the federal government has a mandate to protect this country from invasion. And from the state's perspective, that includes a large group of illegal immigrants crossing the border. But Judge Susan Bolton told him that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals addressed precisely that issue 14 years ago when it was raised by California -- and rejected precisely that same argument. Bolton said that makes it impossible for her to rule otherwise now. On a separate issue, an attorney for the Department of Justice argued there is no legal basis for the state's claim that the federal government is required to build more miles of fences in Arizona. But Gov. Jan Brewer, who attended the hearing, said she remains hopeful the judge will allow the state to pursue its claims.

(We're going to wait for the judge to make her determination. I know it's an uphill battle. I understand that there's precedent set but of course as was mentioned in court, things have changed since those precedents were made.)

The judge also said Tryon may be on no more legally secure footing in a separate contention that the federal government is breaking its own law by refusing to fully reimburse Arizona for the costs of incarcerating illegal immigrants who have violated state laws. The judge said no state is getting all of its costs covered because Congress has not appropriated enough -- and that she cannot order Congress to spend more.

(We understand that. She made that clear. I think we all understand that. The bottom line is that we want the federal government to do their job.)

Brewer pointed out that it was the Obama administration that began this legal fight with last year's lawsuit challenging SB 1070, getting Bolton to put key portions of the law on hold until there can be a full trial, something not likely to occur until next year. The governor She said the state's claim -- really a counterclaim on that lawsuit -- will keep the pressure on the federal government to do more to secure the border. But Brewer said whatever Bolton rules is not the end.

(If she would rule in our favor, it would be a big win. If she doesn't, then there's other alternatives. We can appeal it to the 9th Circuit. I said from the beginning in regards to our illegal alien problem that Arizona is facing that we'll take it all the way to the Supreme Court. And I believe that overwhelmingly the people of Arizona agree with me on that position.)

The judge gave no indication when she will rule. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.