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PHOENIX -- Close to one out of every seven votes cast this year will come from Hispanics, according to a non-partisan organization promoting Latino turnout.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The three Republican senators responsible for comprehensive immigration legislation, which remains stalled in Congress, Thursday urged President Barack Obama to hold off on any steps to shield millions of people from deportation.
"Acting by executive order on an issue of this magnitude would be the most divisive action you could take — completely undermining any good-faith effort to meaningfully address this important issue, which would be a disservice to the needs of the American people," Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida wrote to Obama.
Obama has said he would act after next week's midterm elections as Congress has failed to pass legislation to overhaul the nation's immigration system. The president said he would take steps to increase border security, upgrade the processing of border crossers and encourage legal immigration.
He also said he would offer immigrants who have been illegally in the United States for some time a way to become legal residents, pay taxes, pay a fine and learn English.
The president had promised to act this past summer, but delayed any decisions until after the elections, drawing the wrath of immigration advocacy groups and complaints from Republicans of "raw politics."
The three senators said in the letter that no presidential action should be taken until "we have properly secured our southern border and provided for effective enforcement of immigration laws." They complained that any executive action would undermine congressional efforts to reform the system.
McCain, Graham and Rubio were members of the so-called Gang of Eight, a bipartisan group that put together a broad overhaul of immigration that boosted border security, increased visas for legal immigrants and a provided a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally.
The Senate passed the measure on a bipartisan vote in June 2013, but the Republican-led House has failed to act on any broad measure despite promises from GOP leaders that they would address the issue. Time is running out on the Senate-passed bill, with no indication that the House would vote during a postelection, lame-duck session.
Close to one out of every seven votes cast this year will come from Hispanics, according to a non-partisan organization promoting Latino turnout. And group members predict that large percentage of them will vote for Democrats — but not necessarily because of what those candidates offer, but how Republicans are campaigning.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The three Republican senators responsible for comprehensive immigration legislation, which remains stalled in Congress, on Thursday urged President Barack Obama to hold off on any steps to shield millions of people from deportation.
Environmental groups filed suit Wednesday to block efforts by a Canadian mining firm from looking for copper in the Patagonia Mountains.
PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery wants a federal appeals court to give him what legal foes call a "do-over'' of his bid to salvage a state law denying bail to many people not in this country legally.
Montgomery conceded in filings with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a prior county attorney did not present evidence showing that undocumented individuals were less likely to show up for court dates than citizens or legal residents. The appellate judges, citing that lack of evidence, ruled last week that lack of facts, coupled with disparate treatment of those without documents, make the 2006 voter-approved Proposition 100 illegal and unenforceable anywhere in Arizona.
But Montgomery, in his latest plea, said that was because the challengers to the law effectively admitted that to be true. So he said there was no need to present any statistical evidence.
Cecillia Wang, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said that's not true. She said Montgomery is now seeking a "do-over'' for flaws in the way his office handled the case in the first place.
"They had every opportunity to show that Proposition 100 was supported by some indication there was a flight risk issue here,'' she said. "And they didn't do it,'' Wang continued. "You know why? Because those numbers don't exist.''
Montgomery said he does have such data, even though former County Attorney Andrew Thomas, who was in office when the law was challenged, chose not to present it. And he said the appellate court should give him a chance to make the case now.
"The story is not, 'I want a do-over, Andy Thomas screwed up,' ''Montgomery said. He said it's a question of "simple fairness.''
He said if the appellate court is relying on a lack of evidence to support Proposition 100 they should direct there be a court hearing to explore that issue before voiding a voter-approved state constitutional amendment.
This is more than a question of what happens going forward.
Montgomery said there are "a couple of hundred'' people now in his own county jails awaiting trial who were denied bail because of Proposition 100. He said if the ruling is not overturned, that will allow each of those people to demand a hearing to determine if they should be released -- a process that would be repeated in each of the other 14 counties -- which will cause a backup in handling other cases.
He also told the appellate judges if do not want to give him another chance to make his case, they should at least delay implementing their ruling to let him seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The measure makes bail unavailable to those charged with "serious felony offenses'' if they are in this country illegally and if "the proof is evident or the presumption great'' that the person is guilty of the offense charged.
Proponents said that anyone who has crossed the border illegally probably has few ties to this country, making them a greater flight risk.
Voters approved the measure on a 3-1 ratio.
But appellate Judge Raymond Fisher, writing for the majority of the 11-member court, said there is a constitutional presumptive right of those arrested to be released on bail.
Fisher acknowledged that Arizona has a "compelling interest'' in ensuring that those accused of crimes show up for trial. But he said a blanket rule that those in the country illegally accused of certain crimes must be held without bond is not justified.
"The record contains no findings, studies, statistics or other evidence ... showing that undocumented immigrants as a group pose either an unmanageable flight risk or a significantly greater flight risk than lawful residents,'' Fisher wrote.
It is that evidence that Montgomery now contends he can marshal. But it may not matter.
Fisher said he and his colleagues are not saying it is up to the Montgomery to produce such evidence. But he said the absence of such evidence is a key factor in showing that Proposition 100 was not narrowly crafted to address a specific problem.
Fisher suggested there is, in fact, evidence to the contrary.
He pointed out there were undocumented individuals who had been arrested before Proposition 100 was approved who had been released without bail or after posting bond. He said they still showed up in court -- only to then be "needlessly remanded into state custody'' after the ballot measure took effect.
Montgomery has another hurdle to overcome: the breadth of the measure.
Fisher pointed out that Proposition 100 applies not just to those accused of serious offenses but "also relatively minor ones,'' like altering a lottery ticket with intent to defraud, unlawful copying of a sound recording, or theft of property worth between $3,000 and $4,000.
What Thomas did or did not do plays into this case in another way.
Appellate Judge Richard Tallman, dissenting from the majority ruling, said there was evidence of a sort presented: statements made by Thomas in favor of the measure during the 2006 campaign. Thomas argued that "far too many illegal immigrants accused of serious crimes have jumped bail and slipped across the border in order to avoid justice in an Arizona courtroom.''
But Fisher said that statement is not substantiated with any real data.
And he said "is not a credible source,'' having been disbarred two years ago on charges he used his office to "destroy political enemies'' and for filing unfounded criminal charges.
Follow Howard Fischer on Twitter at @azcapmedia.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery wants a federal appeals court to give him what legal foes call a “do-over” of his bid to salvage a state law denying bail to many people not in this country legally.
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) — A coalition of Arizona advocacy groups defended its practice Wednesday of dropping off early ballots for voters.
The grassroots organizations are facing an outcry in the wake of surveillance video posted last week that shows a volunteer hand-delivering numerous ballots to a Maricopa County elections office a day before the Aug. 26 primary.
"It's a nonstory. Nothing that they did was illegal," said Tony Navarrete, a spokesman for immigration advocacy group Promise Arizona. "It was them making the promise to voters that they were going to turn in their ballots during the primary."
The video has been viewed more than 360,000 times on YouTube.
A.J. LaFaro, the Republican Party's chairman for Maricopa County, said he witnessed the man, who is a canvasser for Citizens for a Better Arizona, dropping off a box full of ballots.
Lafaro said "ballot harvesting" raises issues about the security of those ballots before they're counted, even though signatures on ballot envelopes are checked by election workers.
"From the time those ballots are mailed to the time they're turned back in, lots of things can happen," LaFaro said.
Ramiro Luna, Citizens for a Better Arizona field director, criticized LaFaro and others for referring to canvassers as "thugs." According to Luna, canvassers knock on doors —mostly in Hispanic communities — and encourage voters to participate. But they are trained not to touch a ballot or mark it in any way, he said.
"The ballot is something we keep as sacred. It is between the voter and the election department. All we are doing is providing a service to make sure the ballot is counted and is turned in on time," Luna said.
LaFaro acknowledged the Republican Party has been doing the same thing when it sends get-out-the-vote volunteers to canvass neighborhoods.
"On occasion we offer to take their ballot and deliver it for them," LaFaro said. "If it's not illegal, we're going to make that offer."
But he argued it was on a much smaller scale compared to Democratic-leaning groups.
"We don't comprehend, nor do we subscribe to what we see out there on the progressive-socialist side," LaFaro said. "That gentleman bringing in several hundred ballots, what function does that serve? We still cannot comprehend why they do it."
Maricopa County Elections spokesman Daniel Ruiz said there is no law covering how a ballot gets to the poll. What counts is whether the ballot is signed and the signature can be verified. However, voters who don't plan on mailing a ballot or dropping it off in person should make sure to give it to someone they trust, Ruiz added.
LaFaro said he will urge the Legislature to change the law when it returns in January to make the process illegal.
The collection of ballots by groups like Citizens for a Better Arizona has become an issue in the Arizona secretary of state's race. The practice would have been banned under a major 2013 election law rewrite that the Legislature repealed this year after opponents collected enough signatures to send it to the ballot.
"I see no reason why any individual, whether it's a candidate themselves, a campaign operative, a party individual, myself, you, anybody, should be in possession of an extraordinary number of ballots," Republican candidate Michele Reagan said at an Oct. 7 debate. "It creates a system where there is an opportunity for fraud, and that is not acceptable."
Democrat Terry Goddard agreed that banning mass collections should be considered, within limits.
"I agree that what Sen. Reagan occasionally calls harvesting is wrong and whatever that means should be abolished," Goddard said, while warning that not all collections should be banned. "Let's look carefully before we jump, because the thing at stake is your right and my right to vote, and it seems to me that under every circumstance we ought to protect that right."
Lawyers for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office say a court-appointed official's critique of the agency's investigation into alleged wrongdoing by some of its officers contains mischaracterizations.
In a rematch of a razor-close 2012 congressional race, Democratic Congressman Ron Barber is in a fight for his political life against Republican challenger Martha McSally, a retired A-10 pilot who nearly beat him two years ago.
A court has set a Dec. 3 hearing to hear arguments in Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's appeal of a ruling that concluded his officers have systematically racially profiled Latinos in its vehicle patrols.
PHOENIX -- Calling it a violation of constitutional rights, a federal appeals court on Wednesday voided a 2006 voter-approved measure which denied bail to those not in the country legally who were arrested for other crimes.
Writing for the majority of the 11-member court, Judge Raymond Fisher said there is a presumptive right of those arrested to be released on bail. And he said the fact someone may have entered the country illegally is an entirely separate issue and irrelevant to the question.
"The Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments protect every person within the nation's borders from deprivation of life, liberty or property without due process of law,'' he wrote. "Even one whose presence in this country is unlawful ... is entitled to that constitutional protection.''
And Fisher said that, regardless of someone's status, there are "profound effects'' of pretrial detention, endangering someone's job, interrupting income and impairing family relationships. He also said it can affect someone's ability to assist an attorney in preparing a defense.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said he is studying the ruling. But he said the way it was argued in trial court by Andrew Thomas, his predecessor, may make it virtually impossible to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the decision.
Proposition 100 makes bail unavailable to those charged with "serious felony offenses'' if they are in this country illegally and if "the proof is evident or the presumption great'' that the person is guilty of the offense charged.
It was crafted by former state Senate President Russell Pearce -- at the time a state representative -- who argued that anyone who has crossed the border illegally probably has few ties to this country. That, he said, automatically makes them at greater risk of fleeing before trial.
Voters approved the measure on a 3-1 ratio.
"We do not question that Arizona has a compelling interest in ensuring that persons accused of serious crimes, including undocumented immigrants, are available for trial,'' Fisher wrote. But the judge said there was absolutely no evidence in the record that those in the country illegally are more likely not to show up for trial than lawful residents.
In a dissent, Judge Richard Tallman said that ignores the statements made during the 2006 campaign by Thomas, then the Maricopa County attorney, that "far too many illegal immigrants accused of serious crimes have jumped bail and slipped across the border in order to avoid justice in an Arizona courtroom.''
But Fisher said his colleague is wrong to rely on that statement, saying it's not substantiated. Anyway, he said, Thomas "is not a credible source.''
"He was disbarred in 2012 for using his office to destroy political enemies, filing malicious and unfounded criminal charges, committing perjury and engaging in a host of other crimes,'' Fisher said of Thomas.
Judge Jacqueline Nguyen, in a separate opinion concurring with the majority, went even farther. She said it appears lawmakers put the issue on the ballot -- and voters approved it -- not to ensure that people remained for trial but simply to punish them for being in this country illegally in the first place.
For example, she noted that Pearce promoted the bill by saying that "all illegal aliens in this country ought to be detained, debriefed and deported.''
And Nguyen said that Pearce, in a speech on the House floor, opposed follow-up legislation designed to ease the measure a bit.
"They are here illegally, they have no business being released no (matter) what the charge in reality because they're a flight risk,'' he said. "They need to be turned over to ICE.''
Pearce, now working at the Maricopa County Treasurer's Office, called the ruling "absurd.'' And even in the face of Nguyen's criticism, he would not back down from his contention there is a legitimate reason for Arizona to have separate rules on bail for those without papers.
"We know that a large proportion of crime is committed by those out on bail or bond,'' he said Wednesday.
"They have no business being in the country in the first place,'' Pearce continued. "How can you release them back onto the street for a country they're illegally in to commit more crime?''
Pearce also called the ruling a violation of states' rights, citing approval by 78 percent of the voters.
"That a super majority virtually of every demographic,'' he said.
But Fisher said that vote does not substitute for proof that Arizona had a problem with people not in this country legally skipping out.
"At most the vote shows that voters (ITALICS) perceived (ROMAN) a problem, not that one actually existed,'' the judge wrote.
Montgomery said his own experience prosecuting felony drunk-driving cases convinces him that those not in the country legally are less likely to show up in court. But he conceded that Thomas, in mounting the initial defense of the law, never provided such data but instead sought to argue that Arizona was legally entitled to enact such a policy.
That, said Montgomery, was probably the weakest argument that could have been made. And what's worse is that it's too late in the legal process to now seek to introduce new evidence.
Montgomery said that hamstrings any ability to successfully defend the law, a factor he will consider in deciding whether it's worth the time seeking Supreme Court review.
The lack of data was only part of the reason for the 9th Circuit ruling.
Fisher said the crimes that voters said should mean bail denial to undocumented individuals goes far beyond what can be considered extremely serious.
"Instead, they encompass an exceedingly broad range of offenses, including not only serious offenses but also relatively minor ones, such as unlawful copying of a sound recording, altering a lottery ticket with intent to defraud, tamper with a computer with intent to defraud and theft of property worth between $3,000 and $4,000,'' Fisher wrote.
The court also said the state constitutional amendment is flawed because it does not require prosecutors to prove that a specific defendant is a flight risk but instead lumps all undocumented individuals into a single category.
As proof, Fisher noted there were undocumented individuals who had been arrested prior to approval of Proposition 100, granted bail or released on their own recognizance, and later showed up for court hearings -- only to then be ordered into custody under the terms of Proposition 100.
And to show the illogic of the claim the measure ensures people remain for trial, Fisher pointed out the measure covers foreign citizens who have no legal right to return to their home countries.
"Conversely, Proposition 100 (ITALICS) excludes (ROMAN) from coverage individuals who would seem (ITALICS) more likely (ROMAN) to flee -- such as foreign citizens who are in this country lawfully as tourists and persons having dual citizenship,'' the judge wrote.
Finally, he disputed presumption that being undocumented means few ties to the community, citing national research that found nearly 50 percent of those in this country have been in the country more than 10 years and more than 17 percent of household heads are homeowners.
Calling it a violation of constitutional rights, a federal appeals court on Wednesday voided a 2006 voter-approved measure which denied bail to those not in the country legally who were arrested for other crimes.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office has asked a judge to bar the public from witnessing an Oct. 28 hearing at which lawyers will discuss an investigation of a former sheriff's deputy.
Q: Why are you running?
A: I am running for office because I think we need real leadership in Congress. On issues like immigration, national security and the economy, Kyrsten Sinema and the Obama administration have failed us, and things will not change until we change the type of people we send to Washington, D.C. Kyrsten Sinema said she ran for office to change things, but during her two years in Congress, she has done nothing but support government bureaucrats and stand behind the Obama agenda. Politicians like Kyrsten Sinema have increased the national debt, grown the size of government and supported higher taxes. Arizona deserves better.
Q: Have the issues at the VA been properly addressed? What else would you like to see done to help veterans in our area?
A: Steps have been taken to help alleviate the problems, but the problem is by no means fully addressed. There are still substantial waiting lists at VA hospitals across the country, and that is unacceptable. One of the things I would like to see happen is for the government to allow veterans to seek care at non-VA hospitals and have it covered by the VA if the VA cannot accommodate their request for care in a reasonable time frame. Too many veterans are waiting too long for care, and to me this seems like the most expedient solution. I was very disappointed with the way that Kyrsten Sinema chose to address this issue. During her campaign in 2012, she readily admitted that there were problems in the VA system and promised to work on them, but instead she did nothing when she got to Washington, holding hearings and giving in to bureaucracy instead of taking action. When the truth about the extent of the problem at the VA was brought to light, I was the first to call on the VA secretary to resign and propose solutions to the problem. Meanwhile, Kyrsten Sinema just asked for hearings and studies, waiting until the higher-ups in her party took a position before following their lead.
Q: What kind of effect has the Affordable Care Act had on Arizonans?
A: The Affordable Care Act has certainly failed to live up to its name. Instead of making health care more affordable, this short-sighted law has saddled taxpayers with additional debt while making care even harder to obtain. Obamacare has led to narrow-network insurance plans that offer very few choices and poor coverage. People who liked their insurance or doctors have not been allowed to keep them, despite the platitudes of President Obama and Kyrsten Sinema, and I think that voters across the district are beginning to see that we did not get the bargain we were promised from this law.
Q: What are your thoughts on the recent ruling and impending hearing about gay marriage in Arizona? And do you support the state’s ban on it?
A: I believe marriage is between one man and one woman.
Q: What can Congress do to spur job growth in our area? What industries would you target?
A: I think the best thing that Congress can do to spur job growth is to get government red tape out of the way. Free markets are the answer, but government intervention through unnecessary bureaucracy is holding our economy back. Government should not be in the business of picking economic winners and losers.
Arizona’s candidates for attorney general clashed over immigration issues, campaign finances and their respective bona fides during a forum on Sept. 25.
The candidates for attorney general openly derided the other's experience Tuesday night, each telling viewers of a televised debate their foe is unqualified for the office.
PHOENIX -- The candidates for attorney general openly derided the other's experience Tuesday night, each telling viewers of a televised debate their foe is unqualified for the office.
Republican Mark Brnovich pointed out that Democrat Felecia Rotellini never has taken a criminal case to trial.
"Folks expect someone with experience because the stakes are too high,'' said Brnovich who had been a federal prosecutor. "With everything going on in this country and the Obama administration about to grant amnesty to millions of people, we need an attorney general who's going to push back against the federal government and also has the experience to hit the ground running from Day One.''
Rotellini, in turn, derided Brnovich's experience as "doing street crimes.''
"That's not the jurisdiction of the Attorney General's Office,'' she said.
"The job of the attorney general is doing statewide financial fraud,'' Rotellini continued, pointing out that virtually all criminal cases are handled by county attorneys.
"He's never prosecuted financial fraud,'' she said.
"He's never returned money to victims of fraud,'' Rotellini continued, citing her own experience in the Attorney General's Office and head of the state Department of Financial Institutions which oversees banks and mortgage companies. "He's never shut down scammers.''
Brnovich shot back that if she were such a good regulator the state would not have gone from 21st in mortgage fraud in the nation to No. 4.
Rotellini, who repeatedly interrupted Brnovich during the half-hour debate on KAET-TV, also took off after his experience as a lobbyist for the private Corrections Corporation of America, something she said "made Arizonans less safe.''
She said Brnovich is on record as opposing 2006 legislation which would have precluded private prison companies from bringing in certain violent criminals from other states. The result, she said, is there are private prisons in Arizona housing inmates from Hawaii and Alaska.
Brnovich defended his role with CCA, saying there's a legitimate place for private prisons, with about 7,000 of Arizona's own inmates housed in such facilities. And then he turned the tables on Rotellini, saying if she's so opposed to them she should not have accepted campaign donations from former U.S. Sen. Dennis DeConcini and Anne Mariucci, a former regent, both who actually sat on the CCA board.
Her response was to say that such contributions do not make her beholden to what donors want.
But Rotellini said voters should be concerned about Brnovich being backed by social conservative groups like Arizona Right to Life -- and the fact that he boasted of that during his Republican primary fight against incumbent Tom Horne.
"Mr. Brnovich is an ideologue,'' she charged, saying he is backed by "the anti-women, anti-gay, anti-immigration groups that are hopeful that he'll get in there because they need someone like him who will do their bidding.''
And she charged that means he would use his office to trim the right of women to terminate a pregnancy.
"That's not the law of the land,'' Rotellini said, arguing that "most Americans believe women have the right to choose.''
Brnovich acknowledged he is opposed to abortion. But he said he will defend the laws approved by the Legislature without regard to his own personal beliefs one way or the other.
"As the attorney general, the law is what the law is,'' Brnovich said. But he added that also means he will "defend us against the overreach of the Obama administration,'' whether on environmental regulations or challenging Arizona's laws dealing with illegal immigration.
Brnovich said he understands immigration, saying his mother came here from what used to be Yugoslavia after living through World War II and then the communist government there.
"Immigration is something that this country needs,'' he said.
"But at the same time we are a country of laws,'' he continued. "We must secure the border.''
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.”