Driver’s License Legal Battle Fees Add Up

By Jude Joffe-Block
Published: Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - 6:14pm

Arizona has spent more than $1.5 million in legal bills to defend its policy of denying driver’s licenses to young immigrants who qualify for an Obama administration program.

A federal appeals court forced Arizona to halt that policy and begin issuing licenses while the case continues to be litigated.

Arizona began issuing these immigrants licenses in December while the court case continues.

In 2012, former Governor Jan Brewer issued an executive order to deny young immigrants licenses who qualified for work permits under an Obama administration program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Young immigrants sued Brewer and two Arizona Department of Transportation officials over the policy.

Attorneys for both sides will appear before U.S. District Judge David Campbell on Wednesday afternoon.

Plaintiffs will be asking Campbell to issue a permanent injunction that will require Arizona to continue issuing these licenses without having the case proceed to a trial.

The defendants have asked the judge to dismiss one of the plaintiffs’ arguments without a trial.  

Timothy Tait of the Arizona Department of Transportation confirmed his agency has spent $1.5 million as of mid-December on outside counsel for the case.

That tally does not include compensation for a lawyer from former Governor Jan Brewer’s office who worked on the case until late December. 

When it became clear that the federal courts were requiring Arizona to issue licenses to these immigrants last month, Brewer issued a statement suggesting she did not intend to stop fighting the case. 

“It is important to remember that courts have yet to consider the full merits of the case and I believe that Arizona will ultimately prevail," Brewer wrote. “Consequently, I have instructed my legal team to move forward in pursuing a full review of this matter before the United States Supreme Court as soon as possible.”

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