Governor handing over federal lawsuits to attorney general

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday ended direct control over litigation related to the state's 2010 immigration-enforcement law and its decision not to issue driver's licenses to immigrants granted deferred deportation under a 2012 policy created by President Barack Obama.

Those cases will now be handled by Attorney General Mark Brnovich's office, Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said.

The decision grew out of the governor's belief that his office needed to reduce its role in litigation, Scarpinato said. The proper place for lawsuits to be handled under the state Constitution is the attorney general's office, the spokesman said.

"He trusts and has confidence in our new attorney general to handle these cases moving forward, and believes this approach is in the best interests of the state and taxpayers," Scarpinato said.

Former Republican Gov. Jan Brewer took control of lawsuits challenging SB1070 shortly after it passed. Lawyers working at her direction defended that case and the driver's license case.

Democrat Terry Goddard was attorney general when SB1070 was enacted and was challenging Brewer in the race for governor. She retained the case after Republican Tom Horne took office in early 2011.

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Arizona immigration law's most contentious section - a requirement that police, while enforcing other laws, question the immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally. But the courts have either struck down or blocked enforcement of other sections of the law, such as a requirement that immigrants carry registration papers.

Other challenges to the law are ongoing.

Immigrants denied licenses won a permanent injunction requiring the state to issue licenses just last week. But Ducey has not said if he intends to appeal the case.

Brewer waged a lengthy legal battle after she issued an executive order in 2012 that barred the state from accepting work permits issued to so-called DREAMers as proof they were legally in the U.S. and therefore qualified for an Arizona license.

Brnovich's spokeswoman, Kristen Keogh, said he is reviewing all current litigation.

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