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A court has rejected Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's request to reconsider a ruling that blocked her policy of denying driver's licenses to young immigrants who have avoided deportation under an Obama administration policy.
PHOENIX -- Arizona cannot require people to produce proof of citizenship before they register to vote, at least not for federal elections, a federal appellate court ruled Friday.
PHOENIX (AP) — Authorities say the owner of a Phoenix auto body shop is accused of staging car accidents and collecting on fraudulent insurance claims.
Arizona Department of Insurance investigators say 33-year-old Guillermo "Willie" Altamirano allegedly staged crashes to collect at least $200,000 in fraudulent claims.
The group reportedly relied on forged drivers' licenses from Mexico and Guatemala plus disposable cellphones and prepaid credit cards to purchase auto insurance under fictitious names.
Altamirano is the owner of Champion Auto Body in Phoenix. It was unclear Thursday if he has a lawyer yet.
Acting on a tip, state Department of Insurance agents conducted an undercover operation in April at the auto body shop.
Altamirano was arrested Thursday. He's accused of conspiracy, assisting a criminal syndicate, fraud schemes, theft and forgery.
A driver suspected of DUI has killed another Arizona police officer. It’s become an all-too-common occurrence where a police officer is either seriously injured or killed by a DUI driver.
CHANDLER, Ariz. (AP) — A police officer was fatally injured Friday when he was hit by a suspected drunken driver, becoming the second officer from the Chandler Police Department to be killed in motorcycle crashes this week.
Officer David Payne, 37, was stopped at a red light about 1 a.m. when a vehicle struck his motorcycle from behind, police said. The impact threw Payne's motorcycle through the intersection.
The other driver drove away, but officers stopped him a short time later and took him into custody, police said. The driver had an 11-month-old baby with him, police said.
Payne's death followed the death of another Chandler officer Tuesday. Officer Bryant Holmes, 34, was riding his motorcycle to work when he was struck by an SUV that ran a red light, authorities said. The 20-year-old driver stopped.
"It's been a very difficult week for the department," Chandler Police Chief Sean Duggan said. "We have lost two exceptional and talented officers in a matter of three days."
Police said the suspect in Friday's crash that killed Payne was believed to be impaired by alcohol and driving on a suspended license.
"This is not an accident," said Sgt. Joe Favazzo, a police spokesman. "This is a crash ... It was 100 percent avoidable."
Brian Yazzie, 31, of Tempe, was arrested and jailed on suspicion of manslaughter, endangerment and leaving the scene of an accident, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said.
A Chandler police spokesman, Detective Seth Tyler, said he didn't know whether Yazzie has an attorney yet.
Payne was a seven-year veteran of the Chandler department and a member of its drunken-driving enforcement unit. "His passion was to remove impaired drivers from the roadways," Duggan said.
Payne was also a member of the Arizona Army National Guard, and he served in Iraq in 2007-2008.
Gov. Jan Brewer is asking a federal appeals court to rebuff efforts by the Obama administration to let “dreamers” drive here legally, saying the government is trying to void a valid state law with what amounts to little more than a federal policy.
PHOENIX -- Gov. Jan Brewer is asking a federal appeals court to rebuff efforts by the Obama administration to let "dreamers'' drive here legally, saying the government is trying to void a valid state law with what amounts to little more than a federal policy.
The governor, through her attorneys, is asking judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reject claims by the U.S. Department of Justice that Arizona has no legal right to deny licenses to those in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Brewer is not challenging the right of the administration and the Department of Homeland Security to decide not to try to deport people who arrived in this country illegally as children and even giving them permits to work.
But she said the DACA program was not enacted by Congress and "does not have the force of law.'' And that means it cannot be used to preempt a 1996 Arizona law which says licenses are available only to those who can prove their presence in this country is "authorized under federal law.''
Brewer's filing is a last-ditch effort to get the full court to reconsider -- and overturn -- a decision earlier this year by a three-judge panel which found legal problems with the ban.
The judges ordered the state to start issuing licenses to the dreamers while the case makes its way through the legal system. But that order effectively remains on hold while the full appellate court considers whether to hear Brewer's appeal.
Hanging in the balance is the enforceability of Brewer's 2012 executive order regarding the DACA program. Based on that order, the state Department of Transportation concluded those in the program are not entitled to Arizona licenses.
Brewer argues the 1996 Arizona law allows licenses to be issued only to those "authorized'' to be in this country. More to the point, she contends the decision by the president and the Department of Homeland Security not to deport them does not make their presence "authorized,'' even if they are given work papers.
That argument did not convince the three-judge panel.
Judge Harry Pregerson noted the state has issued licenses to those who granted deferred action under other federal programs. He said that makes Brewer's policy to single out these individuals a violation of the Equal Rights clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Pregerson also said an injunction is appropriate because the policy can cause "irreparable harm'' to those affected. He said their inability to legally drive also makes it more difficult, if not impossible, for them to hold jobs -- a specific right they have in the DACA program.
When Brewer sought review by the full court, the Obama administration weighed in.
"Arizona may not substitute its judgment for the federal government's when it comes to establishing classifications of alien status,'' wrote Assistant Attorney General Lindsey Powell.
She said Arizona has shown no "substantial state purpose'' in crafting rules allowing some not legally in this country to have licenses while other are not. Powell said means Brewer's edict is "preempted by federal law.''
But Brewer, in her latest filing, said there's a flaw in that argument: DACA is only policy.
"The United States ignores the fact that no federal law is at issue here,'' wrote Douglas Northup, lead private attorney hired by Brewer to defend the license ban. Instead, he said, it is "an agency's policy memo, which was issued without notice and comment or subject to any formal rulemaking processes.''
And he said a mere agency policy cannot preempt the Arizona law.
Northup said statements by federal officials back up that contention.
For example, he cited a memo issued by Janet Napolitano when she was the Department of Homeland Security who said that DACA provides no substantive rights, immigration status or a path to citizenship.
"Only Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights,'' the memo states. "It remains for the executive branch, however, to set forth policy for the exercise of discretion within that framework,'' Napolitano continued. "I have done so here.''
Northup also is hanging his legal hat on the fact that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says DACA recipients are not "lawfully present'' in this country for purposes of participating in certain federal programs.
"The fact that there may be disagreement among federal government agencies about the import of the DACA memo underscores why one policy memo of one agency cannot preempt state action here,'' he wrote.
Northup acknowledged that the three-judge panel said the ADOT policy could result in DACA recipients being hampered in their legal ability to work.
But he said that was based on the court's assumption that a certain percentage of Arizona workers commute by car. Northup said that makes no sense, as it could mean that the Arizona policy might be legal in some other cities with a higher percentage of workers using mass transit.
PHOENIX (AP) — Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office says a court-appointed official's critique of the agency's investigation into alleged wrongdoing by some of its officers contains mischaracterizations.
Arpaio's lawyers say in court papers Tuesday that the report alleges investigators failed to act on information provided to them while they examined shakedown allegations against a former deputy. It also says supervisors of the deputy, whose arrest led to the investigations, didn't take appropriate action against him.
The report has not been released to the public.
The lawyers say the document unfairly suggested the sheriff's department wasn't investigating allegations in good faith, and that the criticism centers on the fact that no criminal charges have been filed against officers.
"Such a conclusion, especially given the genesis of this particular investigation, presumes the guilt of MCSO deputies," the attorneys wrote.
The critique was made by Robert Warshaw, who was appointed to monitor the agency by a judge who ruled Arpaio's officers have racially profiled Latinos in its patrols.
The judge asked Warshaw to investigate allegations against a witness in the profiling case, now-deceased deputy Ramon Charley Armendariz. Eighteen months after the profiling trial, Armendariz was accused of shaking down immigrants who are in the country illegally.
Armendariz was arrested five months ago after investigators found driver's licenses, wallets belonging to other people, bags of evidence and more than 100 license plates at his Phoenix home.
Another discovery at Armendariz's home involved an estimated 900 hours of videos taken from cameras mounted on his eyeglasses and dashboard that were supposed to be turned over in the profiling case.
Armendariz told investigators he was innocent, and he implicated former colleagues on Arpaio's immigrant smuggling squad. After his arrest, Armendariz resigned and was later found dead in his home in a suicide by hanging, officials say.
Warshaw's report on the investigation into Armendariz's allegations hasn't been publicly released.
The sheriff's office has repeatedly denied requests by The Associated Press for updates on the investigations, and investigative reports and related documents sought through public records requests haven't been released.
The attorneys who pressed the racial profiling case against Arpaio's office filed a response to Warshaw's report, but that filing is under a court seal. The American Civil Liberties Union, the driving force behind the profiling case, declined to comment on the filing by Arpaio's lawyers.
The sheriff's office says in its latest filing that nearly 9,000 videos taken by officers during the course of their work have been collected in the investigation. It says the videos have generated 39 internal investigations.
Arpaio's lawyers said Warshaw's criticism underscores the monitor's misunderstanding about the distinction between investigations that examine criminal allegations and those that focus on policy violations.
The sheriff's office also said the monitor alleged that Armendariz's supervisors failed to take administrative action against him. Arpaio's lawyers said it already has an administrative investigation into the matter.
U.S. District Judge Murray Snow ordered that a copy of Warshaw's report be sent to county and federal prosecutors. He set a Tuesday hearing to discuss the critique.
Arpaio's attorneys have asked the judge to close discussions of the Armendariz investigations, while opposing lawyers said they should be open to the public.
BUCKEYE, Ariz. (AP) — Police are conducting an administrative inquiry after an officer was caught on video threatening to kill a man during a traffic stop.
The Buckeye police officer stopped a vehicle for an obstructed license plated Oct. 10 on State Route 85.
Police officials say the driver was believed to be armed and transporting a large amount of narcotics.
They say the driver didn't comply with the officer's requests and commands were given in Spanish and English.
Police say the officer had his gun out of its holster, but didn't point it at the driver.
The officer's name hasn't been released, but has been with Buckeye police for about one year.
Police say the driver has filed a formal complaint against the department because of the threat.
PHOENIX -- Fred DuVal drove for several months earlier this year while his Arizona driver's license was suspended.
But a top aide said DuVal was not aware it had been yanked.
Rodd McLeod said DuVal had been captured last December on a photo radar camera, making a right turn without fully stopping for the red light. He said DuVal paid the $270.45 for the ticket and thought that was the end of it.
But in Arizona, red-light violations also require a motorist to attend traffic school. And McLeod said it wasn't until DuVal got a letter months later informing him that his failure to go to that class resulted in his license being suspended.
McLeod said DuVal completed the two-day course in August and, based on a call to someone at the Motor Vehicle Division, thought that was the end of it. But McLeod said there continued to be "chit-chat'' from people who said that MVD records showed he still didn't have a license.
So earlier this month, while in Tucson for an interview, DuVal went to a MVD office where he was informed that he had no license because he never paid the $20 reinstatement fee. Documents from MVD show DuVal filled out a form disclosing that his license was suspended and, on Oct. 3, got it reinstated.
That ticket followed a separate speeding citation in 2012.
DuVal campaign spokesman said that whatever the candidate did, it is certainly no worse than Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Ducey who it was learned during his 2010 campaign for treasurer had amassed 13 traffic offenses over a four-year period, most of those photo-radar speeding violations.
Records from Scottsdale Magistrate Court show several entries over that period where Ducey failed to appear.
But Ducey press aide Melissa DeLaney noted that he argued to the court he never got any of the citations in the mail. She said some tickets were dismissed and he paid the fines for the others.
Vetter has refused several requests to furnish DuVal's driving record, something that the Arizona Department of Transportation legally can provide only to the person who is licensed. DeLaney said she would release Ducey's driving record for the last 39 months -- the typical MVD check -- only if DuVal would "play ball.''
Vetter also questioned whether DuVal's application for a new licensed had been "leaked'' by the Department of Transportation, part of the administration of Gov. Jan Brewer. But an ADOT spokesman said such documents are public records, though they did not immediately have information on who made the request.
The American Red Cross has blood donation events scheduled across the East Valley in October.
PHOENIX -- Arizona's policy of denying thousands of Arizonans in a deferred-action program access to drivers licenses is contrary to federal law, the Obama administration said Tuesday.
In a court filing, attorneys for the Department of Justice told federal appellate judges that Arizona has no legal right to decide that some people the federal government allows to remain in this country are "authorized'' to be here and that others are not. The lawyers said that as far as the federal government is concerned, all are equal under the law -- and all are entitled to the same rights and privileges, including licenses.
"Arizona may not substitute its judgment for the federal government's when it comes to establishing classifications of alien status,'' wrote Assistant Attorney General Lindsey Powell for the administration.
She said Arizona has shown no "substantial state purpose'' in crafting rules to decide that some people not in this country legally are entitled to licenses and some are not. And that, said Powell, means Brewer's edict is "pre-empted by federal law.''
Tuesday's legal brief, made in a lawsuit filed by immigrant-rights groups on behalf of "dreamers,'' does not end the matter. It remains up to the full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had asked the Department of Justice for its views, to decide whether Arizona must start issuing licenses to those allowed to remain in this country under the administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But it puts the federal government on record as telling the court to void the 2012 executive order issued by Gov. Jan Brewer directing the state Department of Transportation not to give licenses to DACA recipients.
Tuesday's filing drew an angry reaction from Andrew Wilder, the governor's spokesman. "Rather than secure U.S. borders or enforce existing federal immigration laws, the Obama administration continues to afford preference and privileges to people who enter our country illegally and whose presence is unauthorized,'' he said in a prepared statement. And Wilder said the fact that Obama has agreed on his own to let certain people not here legally remain and yet challenge Arizona's authority to deny them licenses "demonstrates how unhinged and lawless this liberal administration has become.
Wilder also said Arizona is not going to change its policy without a fight.
"States, not the Obama administration, have the right to determine who is issued a driver's license,'' he said.
Powell, in her legal brief, does not disagree with that basic premise.
She admitted that states can have laws which make access to a license contingent on how the federal government classifies someone's presence in the country. And Powell even said states have "significant discretion'' in deciding what documents are necessary to prove eligibility. But what Arizona is doing, Powell told the court, is manufacturing its own artificial classification "not supported by federal law.''
The DACA program is available to those brought to this country illegally as children but who had not yet turned 30 when the president announced it. They are allowed to stay and work for two years, permission which is renewable if they meet other conditions.
To date, more than 24,000 Arizona residents have applied for DACA status, with 21,000 already accepted into the program. But Brewer, in her 2012 edict, directed ADOT not to make licenses available to DACA recipients. She cites a 1996 state law that states licenses are available only to those whose presence in the country is "authorized by federal law.''
The governor takes the position that the DACA program confers no legality on those in it but simply says they will not be pursued or deported.
Powell points out that nothing in state law defines what it means for someone's presence to be "authorized.'' In fact, she told the court, there is not even a classification of "authorized presence'' under federal law.
Yet Powell said ADOT has decided on its own that the documents provided DACA recipients allowing them to remain, are not sufficient. But she said the state does accept similar documents given to other aliens, such as those who are applying for cancellation of being removed from the country.
"By drawing such distinctions, the state has impermissibly assumed for itself the federal prerogative of classifying noncitizens,'' Powell wrote. She said the state has not shown a legitimate reason for the distinction.
"It is not apparent why, if such documents are sufficient to establish that some bearers are currently authorized to be present in the United States, they are not adequate to make that showing for all bearers,'' Powell told the court. She suggested to the judges that the only reason for the distinction ordered by Brewer is her personal disagreement with the Obama administration about the entire DACA program.
"A state may disagree with the federal government's enactment or implementation of federal law -- as Arizona has made clear it does,'' Powell said in her filing. "But a state may not respond to that disagreement by conditioning eligibility for driver's licenses on its own notions of 'authorized presence' and distinguishing among holders of federal authorization documents for that purposes, at least not without a substantial state interest.''
Powell told the court that the state's claims do not rise to that level.
The lawsuit originated with a filing by civil rights organizations who challenged Brewer's order.
Last year U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell refused to order Brewer and ADOT to start issuing licenses to DACA recipients while the case makes its way through the courts. He said there was no evidence they were being irreparably harmed in the interim.
Earlier this year, though, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit said there is evidence of harm and directed Campbell to tell ADOT to issue licenses. But Campbell refused, noting Brewer is now seeking review by the full 9th Circuit.
But the full court said it first wanted the input of the Department of Justice on the administration's position on the legal arguments. Tuesday's filing gives that to them, along with Powell's argument on why they should not disturb the order of the three-judge panel and order the licenses issued while the case drags on, a process that could take years.
One issue for the full court, at least at this point, is that question of "irreparable harm'' to dreamers while the state is denying them licenses.
In writing earlier this year for the three-judge panel, Judge Harry Pregerson said the inability to legally drive makes it more difficult, if not impossible, for them to hold jobs -- a specific right they get being in the DACA program.
Pregerson, like Powell, said Brewer's decision may be based less on law and more on personal feelings. "Defendants' policy appears intended to express animus toward DACA recipients themselves, in part because of the federal government's policy toward them,'' he wrote. "Such animus, however, is not a legitimate state interest.''
Arizona's policy of denying thousands of Arizonans in a deferred action program access to driver's licenses is contrary to federal law, the Obama administration said today.
PHOENIX (AP) — Federal authorities who have pushed back against Arizona's attempts to confront illegal immigration in recent years face a Tuesday deadline for chiming in about two state immigration policies that are being scrutinized by the courts.
The Obama administration is scheduled to provide input in a challenge of Gov. Jan Brewer's policy that denies driver's licenses to young immigrants who have avoided deportation under a change ordered by the president.
It's also expected to urge a judge to throw out Arizona's 2005 immigrant smuggling ban.
Brewer is asking a federal appeals court to reconsider its July decision that blocked the driver's license policy.
The administration made the request to block the smuggling law as part of its challenge of the 2010 law, which made a minor change to the 2005 statute.
Calling her action “mean spirited” and a “mistake,” Fred DuVal promised Monday if he is elected to rescind the executive order by Gov. Jan Brewer denying driver's licenses to “dreamers.”
PHOENIX -- Calling her action "mean spirited'' and a "mistake,'' Fred DuVal promised Monday if he is elected to rescind the executive order by Gov. Jan Brewer denying driver's licenses to "dreamers.''
"Forty eight states allow dreamers to drive,'' the Democrat gubernatorial candidate said during a debate. "We should join the rest of the nation.''
But Republican Doug Ducey said during the hour-long event broadcast on KAET-TV, the Phoenix PBS affiliate, that he sides with Brewer's 2012 decision to deny licenses to the nearly 21,000 Arizonans who have been accepted into the federal government's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
"I am going to have respect and compassion for everyone,'' Ducey said.
"But I don't think anyone gets the privileges and benefits of hardworking Arizona families that are paid for by hardworking Arizona taxpayers,'' he said. "We're a nation of immigrants and we're a nation of laws.''
Other highlights in the fourth of the five debates the pair have agreed to include:
- Ducey, for the first time, said he would veto any bid by the Republican-controlled Legislature to repeal the expansion of Medicaid pushed through last year by Brewer, at least for the time being. Ducey said while he is opposed to "Obamacare,'' that program will fund Arizona's expansion for at least the next three years and he wants those dollars to keep coming.
- DuVal chided Ducey for refusing to publicly disclose the terms of what happened after he sold Cold Stone Creamery in 2007 and the buyers demanded arbitration because they said the company was worth only a fraction of what he claimed. Ducey has not disputed that the $80 million sales price had to be renegotiated to a fraction of that but said there's no reason to discuss it now because the buyers are now happy.
- Both candidates said they support more "transparency'' in campaign finance laws to require "dark money'' groups to disclose the source of their spending on efforts to influence elections. But neither laid out specific legislation they would support to accomplish that goal.
The issue of the driver's licenses stems from the Obama administration approving DACA. It allows those who arrived as children and were not yet 30 in 2012 to seek permission not only to stay but also to work.
But Brewer directed the state Motor Vehicle Division not to issue licenses to DACA recipients. She said they do not meet the requirements of a 1996 Arizona law which says only people "authorized'' to be in this country can get licenses.
Immigrant rights groups sued, with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals saying the DACA recipients should be licensed while the legal points are debated. But at this point none of that is happening as Brewer and the state have appealed.
DuVal said it's time to end the lawsuit.
"These dreamers are part of our community,'' he said.
"They've been raised here, they've been successful,'' DuVal continued. "They've served in the military or are going to school.''
He said it is in the state's interest to license them so they can contribute to Arizona's economy. And, if nothing else, he said it means they are more likely to have state-mandated liability insurance.
Ducey said he sees the issue from the perspective of "how we got here.''
That, he said, starts with the failure of the federal government to "do its first duty to Arizona'' to secure the border.
Ducey deflected a question by host Ted Simons who questioned whether the governor's move is divisive. Instead, he said the first priority has to be border security.
"And then we can deal with some of the other issues around immigration,'' Ducey said.
Nor would he directly answer the question of whether he thinks "dreamers'' should be deported.
"I'm for opportunity for all in our state and that's the type of governor I want to be,'' Ducey responded.
Libertarian Barry Hess, who has not been in prior debates, said that, like DuVal, he sees the issue in practical terms: A license is needed to get insurance.
"People are still going to drive, except they're going to drive uninsured,'' he said. "That's a big issue these days.''
Hess used his opportunity to interject his views into the ongoing debate about how Arizona should handle court rulings that lawmakers for years illegally ignored a voter-approved mandate to annually boost state aid to schools to account for inflation. DuVal wants to take a deal offered by schools to settle for $317 million increase in the base funding formula while Ducey wants to continue to appeal to look for a better deal.
By contrast, Hess wants to ask voters to repeal the entire funding formula.
"It's not about money,'' he said of education quality, calling the education system "bloated.'' He said a cheaper -- and better -- alternative would be more distance learning.
"You can get a far better education than the brick-and-mortar counterparts without the spreading of disease, without the spreading of bad behavior, without the logistics of security and all the other stuff that comes with these government schools,'' he said.
John Mealer, the candidate of the Americans Elect Party, used the opportunity to promote legalizing hemp -- a non psychoactive version of marijuana -- as a replacement for rubber and fiberglass and to create biofuels. But Mealer also said that, as far as he's concerned, Arizona should also legalize recreational use of marijuana and "tax it as we do alcohol.''
A large-scale scam involving people claiming to represent the IRS through unsolicited phone calls has cost citizens across the country, including Arizona, millions of dollars over the last six months.
Saying they waited too long to ask, attorneys for Gov. Jan Brewer told federal appellate judges they should reject a plea to force her to start issuing licenses right now to dreamers.
Residents, please make sure your license plate bulbs are fresh and working properly, OK? The DUI task force in Tempe is not there to protect and serve. They are there to cold-call for their very lucrative business. It is ridiculous. I know three designated drivers who were completely sober who were in handcuffs over the weekend. A couple of them even blew 0.00. One of them caught the whole incident on video and the cop wouldn’t let him go until he erased the video (he waited and watched him do it before he would let him go).
Republican State Rep. Bob Robson was cited Monday night for allegedly tampering with campaign signs after an incident that occurred near a Circle K store on Aug. 9.
Attorneys for dreamers are asking a federal appeals court to make good on its ruling that their clients are entitled to driver's licenses while they challenge Jan Brewer's interpretation of Arizona law.
Arizona has a higher percentage of individuals who have applied for deferred action than any other states, according to a new report.
One young man from Mesa who grew up in the foster care system is in Washington, D.C., learning about the political process and help change the way the Capitol makes policy regarding foster kids. Craig Stuart is interning in the office of Rep. Trent Franks with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s (CCAI) Foster Youth Internship (FYI) program.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Style, punctuation and capitalization reflect the original letter.