PHOENIX - A federal judge Friday dismissed a lawsuit by the state of Arizona against the U.S. government that said the Obama administration had failed in its duty to enforce immigration laws or secure the border.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton's ruling marked a victory for the Obama administration in its legal and political battle with Arizona and Governor Jan Brewer over illegal immigration.
Brewer, a Republican, filed the suit in February as a counter-claim after the Obama administration sued Arizona to overturn the state's controversial law, SB-1070, cracking down on illegal immigrants.
Arizona said in its suit the U.S. Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security had failed to gain "operational control" of the border with Mexico and had abdicated responsibilities to enforce federal immigration laws.
"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.
A Justice Department spokeswoman, Xochitl Hinojosa, said the department was pleased Bolton had dismissed the lawsuit.
Bolton, in a 22-page written ruling, found some of the claims Arizona was asserting had already been litigated in a lawsuit filed by the state in the 1990s.
Two other claims raised by Arizona had already been litigated and rejected by the federal courts, she said.
Bolton rejected arguments by Arizona that the Department of Homeland Security had failed to achieve operational control of the border because it had not built 700 miles of fencing and installed other barriers and infrastructure.
"It is not disputed that the federal government has taken substantial action to complete fencing along the border and increase additional infrastructure designed to stem illegal immigration," the judge wrote. (Additional reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky in Washington; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Jerry Norton)
© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.