Gov. Jan Brewer lost a round in federal court earlier this week, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an injunction blocking the state from enforcing her policy of denying driver’s licenses to so-called DREAM Act youngsters.
Brewer announced in 2012 that the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles wouldn’t give licenses to teens and young adults who qualify for the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shelters young undocumented immigrants from deportation as long as they arrived here as children and stay out of trouble.
Brewer was sued by a coalition of groups, including the ACLU, National Immigration Law Center and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, who argued that the policy violated the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.
Ninth Circuit justices ruled on Monday, July, 7, that there was “no rational relationship between (Brewer’s) policy and a legitimate state interest” and ordered the U.S. District Court in Phoenix to grant an injunction that prevents the state from following Brewer’s orders to withhold the driver’s licenses.
The lawsuit must still go to trial, but the Ninth Circuit noted that attorneys for DACA enrollees had “established a likelihood of success on the merits of their Equal Protection Clause claim.”
Brewer vowed to keep fighting in court, saying on her Facebook page that the appeals court “refused to allow me to follow the rule of law.”
Among the Republicans who are running for Brewer’s job this year, there was general support for Brewer’s approach.
Former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith encouraged Brewer to appeal the Ninth Circuit’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The Obama Administration's unilateral declaration of its DACA policy and its unwillingness to use existing law to expedite the return of tens of thousands of illegal immigrants from Central America to their homes is creating our immigration crisis,” Smith said. “This ruling merely supports the unlawful unilateral actions of this administration, further undermining electoral confidence in Washington’s ability to address this crisis in a just, appropriate and serious manner.”
State Treasurer Doug Ducey said “the Ninth Circuit has once more trampled over states' responsibilities. I hope this decision is appealed to the Supreme Court.”
Secretary of State Ken Bennett said he expects “the ruling will be appealed” and sided with Brewer, although he left the door open for relaxing the rules in the future.
“Legal presence in our country and state is a basic requirement to qualify for any state license,” Bennett said. “I would support establishing a fair and efficient process that allows these young people an opportunity to establish a legal presence and gain access to some of the rights and privileges citizens enjoy.”
We're still waiting to hear back from candidates Christine Jones and Frank Riggs.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred Duval sided with the DREAMers and promised that “the very first thing I will do after taking the oath of office will be to rescind Governor Brewer’s executive order and end this embarrassment once and for all.”
“Governor Brewer’s executive order barring DREAMers from receiving driver’s licenses is callous,” DuVal said. “It hurts families and local businesses, and it makes our streets less safe.”