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This was a suit by Arizona against the Biden Administration regarding two different sets of unrelated policies: COVID-19 vaccine mandates as to federal employees and contractors, on the one hand, and the circumstances under which asylum seekers should be detained, on the other.

Arizona filed suit in September 2021, alleging (solely) that COVID-19 vaccination mandates for federal employees and contractors represent unconstitutional discrimination against U.S. citizens because the federal government does not mandate vaccination of asylum seekers before they are released from detention.  

Soon thereafter, Arizona significantly changed (and expanded) its lawsuit, to challenge the same vaccine mandates on a variety of different legal grounds and to newly challenge decades-long practices of the federal government whereby some asylum seekers are released from detention while the federal government adjudicates their claims for humanitarian protection (which often takes years). Arizona claims that these detention practices substantively conflict with immigration statutes and that, even if they are substantively permissible, they did not go through proper procedures.  Arizona has dropped the discrimination claim. 

In December 2021, the parties agreed that the court should bifurcate consideration of the vaccine-related claims from the immigration-related claims.  In January 2022, Judge Liburdi issued an opinion granting final judgment to Arizona regarding the contractor vaccine mandate, but dismissed its claims as to the federal employees vaccine mandate. That decision was later appealed, but will not be tracked here given the subject matter.

Thereafter, the parties briefed the Biden Administration’s motion to dismiss Arizona’s immigration-related claims. After briefing and oral argument, Judge Liburdi issued a decision in late September 2022 that mostly denied the Biden Administration’s motion to dismiss.

In January 2023, the newly-elected Governor and Attorney General of Arizona were sworn into office, after which Arizona voluntarily dismissed this case.

Technical Summary

Arizona’s original complaint alleged only an equal protection claim (later abandoned), and challenged only the vaccine mandates.  

Arizona’s Third Amended Complaint challenged one or more alleged policies of “refusing to detain arriving aliens,” which Arizona claims conflicts with 8 U.S.C. § 1225(b)(1)-(2) and relies on an unlawful misuse of the parole authority in 8 U.S.C. § 1182(d)(5).  Arizona also claims the alleged policies violate the Administrative Procedure Act’s prohibition of arbitrary and capricious agency action and its notice-and-comment requirement; as well as the Take Care Clause (which requires the President to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed”).​​​​​


Blue and white cloud graphic with text that says "Freedom to Welcome" Justice Action Center, RAICES and UCLA Center for Immigration Law and Policy on the bottom.


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