Arizona Back in 9th Circuit Court Today Defending No Driver's Licenses for DREAMers

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DREAMers can get driver's licenses since December of last year and Arizona really hates it. - PHOTO: MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Photo: Maria Inés Taracena
  • DREAMers can get driver's licenses since December of last year and Arizona really hates it.

The state and immigration rights advocates were back in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today for a hearing against a district court judge's injunction that allowed undocumented youth protected under Obama's 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival to get licenses in Arizona. 

After years in and out of court, U.S. District Judge David Campbell issued in December a preliminary injunction that immediately allowed about 22,000 DREAMers to get licenses. The following month he made it permanent: Arizona cannot deny  DREAMers driver's licenses. Since 2012, federal courts continuously ruled against former governor Jan Brewer's executive action, which she announced the same day the DACA program went into effect. The Ninth Circuit has even said in the past that the policy is likely unconstitutional and that it shouldn't proceed.

In Dec. 17, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy rejected a last-minute appeal by the state, and that's when Campbell issued a preliminary injunction. DREAMers began getting licenses five days later.

In February, we heard news that Arizona's new Attorney General Mark Brnovich would continue appealing. 

Nicholas Espíritu, an attorney with the National Immigration Law Center, which is one of the plaintiffs in the case, says they wanted the court to know that Arizona's rationale hasn't changed. "They continue to think that they have the right to discriminate against DACA recipients, and continue to justify their desire to discriminate. The Supreme Court has said that Arizona can't discriminate against DREAMers, and we feel the Ninth Circuit will continue to hold that."

Prior to that, in July of 2014, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the policy was probably  unconstitutional and that DREAMers—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," a statement by the National Immigration Law Center said.

Arizona is the only state in the country continuing to resist licenses for DREAMers. 

It's unclear when the parties will hear from the Ninth Circuit, but immigration advocates are confident this will be another legal failure for Arizona.

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