Arizona Immigration Law: Funds Roll in from across US to Defend It

Article excerpt

Many contributions made online or sent by mail are $20, $50, or $100 - for a total of $3.6 million. As long as donations keep coming, state taxpayers are off the hook as Gov. Jan Brewer defends the Arizona immigration law.

A legal defense fund established by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer in May to help Arizona fend off lawsuits challenging its controversial immigration enforcement law has received donations totalling $3.6 million from about 41,000 sympathizers across the country. The sum is well more than the $440,000 known to have been spent defending the law so far.

The Arizona immigration law, which critics say will lead to racial profiling, is facing several lawsuits, including one from the US Department of Justice, and the cost to defend it could reach several million dollars, legal experts say. The defense fund received a significant boost from one contributor, a Wyoming resident who donated $1.5 million in mid-August, Gov. Brewer disclosed recently.

The figure of $440,000 represents the defense costs for the first two months of legal challenges, but the documents from the governor's office extend through June and do not cover July court hearings before federal Judge Susan Bolton, who blocked implementation of key elements of the law. Brewer's appeal is now at the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Although the governor's office has no estimates on total legal expenses that might be incurred, Brewer's spokesman, Paul Senseman, says the state's mounting legal costs are expected to be considerable. The legal work so far is massive, Mr. Senseman says, citing 900 legal filings in the lawsuits that total about 12,000 pages.

"It's impossible to accurately estimate because there are so many variables involved, including when and how federal judges rule, what appeals may be undertaken, the length of the appeals," he says.

Paul Bender, a law professor at Arizona State University, concurs with Senseman and says legal costs will skyrocket quickly especially if the battle over the law lands in the US Supreme Court. …