PHOENIX — Gov. Jan Brewer sued the federal government Thursday for failing to control Arizona's border with Mexico and enforce immigration laws, and for sticking the state with huge costs associated with jailing illegal immigrants who commit crimes.
The lawsuit claims the federal government has failed to protect Arizona from an "invasion" of illegal immigrants. It seeks increased reimbursements and extra safeguards, such as additional border fences.
Brewer's court filing serves as a countersuit in the federal government's legal challenge to Arizona's new enforcement immigration law. The U.S. Justice Department is seeking to invalidate the law.
"Because the federal government has failed to protect the citizens of Arizona, I am left with no other choice," Brewer said as sign-carrying protesters yelled chants at her and at other champions of the immigration law.
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Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler declined to comment on the filing. But a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which is in charge of policing the country's borders, called Brewer's lawsuit a meritless action and said Border Patrol staffing is higher than ever.
"Not only do actions like this ignore all of the statistical evidence, they also belittle the significant progress that our men and women in uniform have made to protect this border and the people who live alongside it," spokesman Matthew Chandler said. "We welcome any state and local government or law enforcement agency to join with us to address the remaining challenges."
Brewer's lawsuit seeks a court order that would require the federal government to take extra steps to protect Arizona — such as more border fences — until the border is controlled. Brewer also asks for additional border agents and technology along the state's border with Mexico.