Driver’s License Claim Could Put the Brakes on U.S. Immigration Case

REUTERS — AUSTIN, Texas – One of the pivotal issues in the closely watched battle over President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday is the rather banal subject of the money Texas pays for driver’s licenses.

To bring the case and have legal standing, the state of Texas, the lead plaintiff in the case, must show that it has been hurt in some way. In its filing, Texas argues that it would take a hefty financial hit for processing driver’s licenses for immigrants in the country illegally whose deportation would be deferred under Obama’s executive action.

The Texas attorney general’s office said Obama’s action “would cause a spike in driver’s license applications, thus making those licenses much more costly to issue.”

But the numbers cited by Texas in its claim far exceed what the state currently pays annually for all its driver’s license services.

“It is kind of dry, legal stuff, but it is of great consequence,” said Bill Beardall, executive director of the Equal Justice Center in Texas, which provides legal help for low-income families and immigrants.

Beardall, also a University of Texas Law School professor, said the claims Texas makes of harm are tenuous.

“It has been regarded by almost all legal scholars as a very thin basis for claiming the kind of irreparable harm that would support a temporary injunction, or the kind of serious harm that would support standing,” Beardall said.

If the Supreme Court finds that Texas lacked a sufficient “injury” to sue, the case ends there and Obama wins.

In a filing with the Supreme Court, Texas contends that processing driver’s licenses for immigrants shielded from deportation under Obama’s action would cost the state more than $103 million in additional funds to process as many as 520,000 people seeking licenses.

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