General Question

ItsAHabit's avatar

Should States Sue Feds. for Damages?

Asked by ItsAHabit (2302points) July 12th, 2010

Federal politicians of both parties apparently refuse to have immigration laws enforced for self-serving political reasons.

The resulting monetary costs are enormous to CA, AZ, NM, and TX because they are forced to pay education, health and medical, welfare and many other expenses.

Should the states sue the federal government for financial damages that it has imposed on them because of its dereliction of duty?

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24 Answers

LocoLuke's avatar

Politicians have no part in enforcing immigration laws. If there is a law, it is up to the local authorities to uphold it, and if THEY refuse to, somebody might sue them for damages, but it probably wouldn’t make it into court. That’s my understanding at least.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Nah. Look how much residents of those 4 states save by hiring day laborers standing in front of Home Depot, and inexpensive housekeepers.

I’m from NY and believe me, we pay plenty for “education, health and medical, welfare and many other expenses.” for home grown residents.

Hey, I’ll trade you one of our crack heads for one of your day laborers any day. Deal?

marinelife's avatar

No, they should not. What about all the benefits the states gets from Federal presences in those states?

Seek's avatar

Let’s be honest – California isn’t suffering because of its immigrants. In fact, without them their entire agriculture industry would collapse upon itself. This is only one example.

Your question has false pretenses.

Nullo's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Economically, no. But a lot of the immigrants, instead of integrating, are remaking the state into something more like Mexico some even to the extent of making non-Mexicans unwelcome. There’s a reason why nobody writes odes to the beauties of Tijuana.

Seek's avatar


The question is referencing the economic impact, not the aesthetic impact.

And I’m pretty sure that Mexico has, to this day, a huge tourism industry. I can’t vouch for poetry, but they have plenty of beauty – architectural, natural, and cultural.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I’m all in favor of the states suing the federal gov’mint at every opportunity!

bobloblaw's avatar

Damages? Monetary damages aren’t really proper. If the States were actually suing in good faith without some sort of political grand standing, what they should ask for is an injunction. Essentially, the States should be seeking an order from the courts telling the Federal government to do X. Asking for damages is pointless b/c it doesn’t get what you supposedly want. It’s like asking for water from an axe murderer that’s chasing you b/c you’re thirsty from the chase.

Of course, I say all this w/out any analysis on the substance of the question.

missingbite's avatar

@LocoLuke That is not the case if it is a Federal Law. The Feds are suing AZ over the fact that they are trying to have a state law cracking down on illegal immigrants while the Federal Government has failed to enforce its own federal law. On top of that, it is costing AZ millions on the illegal immigrants.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Most of the bafflegap about suing the Federal Government is opportunistic political posturing.

ItsAHabit's avatar

I haven’t heard anyone suggest that the federal government be sued. However, it seems like a good idea. If the feds paid the costs of its failure over the decades to enforce the law, states wouldn’t be forced to take the matter into their own hands. This is not a partisan issue; both Democrats and Republicans are at fault for creating the problem.

ItsAHabit's avatar

boboblaw I think you have a great idea. Of course the states should be compensated for their damages, but the feds would simply borrow more money and put our children and grandchildren (if we have either) into a more dismal economic future.

UScitizen's avatar

Recovery for damages would be appropriate. But, it will never happen. Injunctive relief would be appropriate. But, it will never happen. Regardless of Marbury v. Madison, the Judiciary will never take on both the Executive and the Legislative in a battle royale. That could result in another 1861, and no one wants that. ... And, the judiciary is largely biased in favor of the unlawful invading hordes.

Nullo's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr So I edit my question. Everything, including aesthetics, has a price tag.
The prettier parts of Mexico are generally that way because they’re developed and maintained for tourists. Places like Rosarito Beach and Ensenada. But throughout most of Tijuana, you have a massive garbage problem. I’ve never been to Mexico City, but I hear that it’s not any better.

bobloblaw's avatar

The problem isn’t that SCOTUS is “afraid.” The Judiciary can’t “take on” anyone. It’s not supposed to. The problem is that there’s no cause of action. The problem with the whole damages thing is this: what legal theory would you try to argue under?

Constitutional law? Those typically deal with the Federal government invading States’ rights and vice versa.

Tort Law? The Federal government hasn’t exactly affirmatively done anything intentionally or negligently to actually cause the harm.

Contract law? There is no contract, as defined under the law. So there can be no breach of a non-existent contract. If there’s no breach, then there’s no injury. No injury, no damages.

Statutorily? From what I gather, there are no Federal statutes that address this.

The reason why no state has sued for damages is that they can’t. There’s no cause of action. In fact, I’d say the same thing about injunctions. While it is the better tool, the same question is relevant: what theory of law would you argue for an injunction?

Seek's avatar


And Harlem isn’t exactly the Four Seasons, either. Every place in the world has good parts and bad parts.

YARNLADY's avatar

If enough people responded to the Take our Jobs plan, it wouldn’t be necessary. The illegals would be out and the unemployed citizens would be back to work.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Tort law: I think the feds have neglected to enforce the law, subsequently causing the damage.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I’m no lawyer either, but I’m thinking that it would be better for states to simply refuse to run programs which infringe on the rights of the states, and let the federal government sue them. It’s often easier to defend than it is to attack.

UScitizen's avatar

@CaptainHarley You’ve just sketched out a very good argument, based on the 10th Amendment. That is the Amendment that the Judiciary consistently ignores. It is much too inconvenient to enforce it.
@ItsAHabit The damages are insurmountable. CA has spent Billions on health care and education for those that have entered the USA illegally.
@bobloblaw That whole 14th Amendment “equal protection” thing has often been very troublesome for the Executive. This time, it will be no problem. both the Executive and the Judiciary want to allow the illegal alien to invade the USA.

bobloblaw's avatar

@ItsAHabit I don’t mean to sound… combative or pretentious, but that’s not how it works. Negligence, under the law, is a lot more than just the dictionary definition. Duty, Breach, Causation, Damages. These elements are pretty extensive as well. Not to mention sovereign immunity issues.

@UScitizen What do you mean? What does the 14th amendment have to do with… anything in this discussion? And 10th amendment arguments are tough to make. Mostly b/c no one ever actually tries to do it.

UScitizen's avatar

@bobloblaw Counsel, I sincerely appreciate how you maintain a civil and respectful approach. I wish that more could do so here. I am, however, surprised that you do not see the obvious equal protection argument. When the Executive CHOOSES to NOT enforce the law, I am the victim, res judicata. I pay taxes to support the illegal alien. I am a victim of the crime perpetrated by the illegal alien.

lillycoyote's avatar

You are assuming that there are monetary costs to these states. What proof, what documentation, what evidence do you have that the costs of illegal immigration, and that is the immigration that I assume you are talking about, out way the benefits of illegal immigration in these states?

bobloblaw's avatar

@UScitizen That isn’t an equal protection claim. The 14th amendment requires that the government treats similarly situated people similarly in addition to incorporating parts of the Bill of Rights to the States. How is the Federal government discriminating against you by not enforcing the law? How has any State violated your fundamental rights?

Side note: you can’t say that they’re not enforcing the border laws. They arrest people everyday. The people that do that are known as the INS or, more colloquially, “La Migra.” On the other hand, you could say that they’re just not doing a good job at it. I’ll go that far. The Feds could do a better job of enforcing the border. Like maybe sending National Guard troops to the border (which was actually done).

What does the Civil Procedural concept/rule that “once a judgment is finalized, the same case between the same parties can no longer, barring certain issues, be subject to appeal” (res judicata) have to do with this?

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