Federal Court Permanently Blocks Arizona Ban on DREAMers' Licenses

Affiliate: ACLU of Arizona
January 23, 2015 4:17 pm

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PHOENIX – A federal district court judge in Arizona late yesterday permanently blocked a ban on driver’s licenses for immigrant youth ordered by Gov. Jan Brewer. The ruling is the latest in a series of victories for DREAMers in Arizona Dream Act Coalition v. Brewer, a lawsuit brought by civil rights groups challenging the state’s denial of licenses to immigrants who have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) under a federal program.

“Once again, DREAMers have made history in Arizona. Despite the continuous challenges that our state government poses against us and our families, the ADAC has continued to empower and organize our communities,” Korina Iribe, local campaigns field organizer with the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, said. “Thanks to that, we have defeated Gov. Brewer’s discriminatory actions against our right to drive. We are hopeful that our new governor, Doug Ducey, will not follow Brewer’s steps and refrains from further appeals of this decision. This will show if he is on the side of justice and common sense, or on the side of Brewer’s failed tactics.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona, MALDEF, and the National Immigration Law Center challenged the executive order and related policies in court, alleging that the ban violates DACA recipients’ constitutional right to equal protection under the law as well as the principles of federal supremacy in the area of immigration policy and law.

Jennifer Chang Newell, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said, “We hope this is the last nail in the coffin for Arizona’s unconstitutional, discriminatory policy against immigrant youth, DREAMers can now get on with their lives and fully contribute their talents to their communities and the state.”

Gov. Brewer ordered the ban on DREAMers’ licenses in 2012, shortly after the Obama administration announced its DACA program. In July 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that the policy was likely unconstitutional and that the group of young people – who have permission from the federal government to live and work in the U.S. – are seriously impaired by their inability to get driver’s licenses.

“This is a great victory for young immigrants who courageously challenged this discriminatory ban on their ability to get driver’s licenses,” said Nicholas Espiritu, staff attorney, NILC. “The court’s decision also reaffirms the constitutional principle of equal protection under the law.”

Jorge Castillo, MALDEF staff attorney, added, “The court’s order protects the equal rights afforded to all persons in this country. It also ensures that our clients will be able to drive to work or school, fulfilling the purpose behind their grant of deferred action.”

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Arizona’s motion to stay the 9th Circuit decision. With the federal district court’s injunction yesterday, the state of Arizona can no longer prevent DACA recipients from receiving licenses.

A copy of today’s decision is at:

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