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Federal judge dismisses Arizona counterclaim over immigration law

A federal judge for the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] on Friday dismissed a counterclaim [order, PDF] filed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) [official website] and state Attorney General Tom Horne [official profile] against the US government in the lawsuit challenging the controversial Arizona immigration law [SB 1070 materials; JURIST news archive]. While the court ruled that Arizona had standing to bring the counterclaim, the court barred several counts in the claim because they had already been litigated before the court in a 1995 case. The court also held that Arizona failed to state valid claims and the claims would be dismissed, even if they had not already been precluded from litigation, because they offered political instead of legal questions. Brewer issued a statement Friday criticizing the decision [text, PDF] and expressing hope that the case will appear before the US Supreme Court [official website]. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed suit [JURIST report] last year against Brewer seeking to permanently enjoin the state's immigration law. The complaint states that the law is preempted by federal law and therefore violates the Supremacy Clause [text] of the US Constitution.

The controversial Arizona immigration law has influenced other anti-immigration laws in states such as Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia [JURIST reports]. Some critics have argued that the stricter state immigration laws do not comply with federal law [JURIST op-ed] and only serve to complicate the system. Earlier this month, the DOJ filed a motion in the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] to halt enforcement [JURIST report] of a controversial Alabama immigration law [HB 56 text] that expands restrictions on undocumented immigrants. The law requires school officials to verify the immigration status of children and parents, authorizes police to detain an individual and ask for papers if the officer has "reasonable suspicion" that the driver is in the country illegally, and requires businesses to use the federal E-Verify system [official website] to determine whether potential employees are legal residents. Since the legislation passed, 16 countries have filed briefs [JURIST report] in the Alabama district court against the controversial law, arguing that it provides unfair treatment to citizens of those countries currently residing in Alabama and sanctions discriminatory treatment based on ethnicity.

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