Activistsdemand State Gov't Documents ; Want Information Regarding'dreamers,' Driver's Licenses
Fischer, Howard, AZ Daily Star
PHOENIX -- Challengers to Arizona's denial of driver's licenses to "dreamers" want internal documents and testimony -- perhaps even from Gov. Jan Brewer -- in their legal bid to prove her actions are illegal.
Attorney Victor Viramontes of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund contends the Brewer administration is improperly hiding behind claims of privilege to avoid answering questions about how she and the Department of Administration came up with the policy. He wants U.S. District Judge David Campbell to order both ADOT and Brewer's staffs to produce documents leading up to the policy change.
The move is getting a fight from the governor's lawyers.
In his own filings with the court, Douglas Northup, lead counsel for Brewer, charges that MALDEF has been "asking blatantly inappropriate questions aimed at invading the attorney-client privilege." He wants Campbell to rebuff Viramontes.
What the judge rules could determine the ultimate outcome of the case.
Viramontes said the question of whether those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as "dreamers," are entitled to Arizona licenses goes beyond the simple issue of whether they are authorized by federal law to be in this country.
He pointed out that the lawsuit is based in large part on MALDEF's contention that Brewer and her staff decided ahead of time they wanted to deny licenses to DACA recipients, but wanted to do it in such a way that the policy change would not affect others in the country illegally. That, Viramontes said, would violate constitutional requirements to treat all people equally.
Earlier this year, Campbell said there appeared to be some basis for that equal-protection claim. So ADOT again altered the policy in a way that Viramontes argues was similarly designed mainly to keep licenses out of the hands of DACA recipients.
"Under the equal-protection analysis, your motivation is one of the key factors that you have to evaluate to figure out if they're discriminating," he said. "By denying us this discovery, they're keeping us from proving our case."
Viramontes wants internal memos and emails between ADOT and Brewer staff members exchanged ahead of the policy changes. And he wants those involved in changing the policy to answer questions about how it came about.
So far, Viramontes has questioned ADOT Director John Halikowski and several others. He said, however, that it may become necessary to take a deposition from Brewer herself. …