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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Arizona Fights Against Dreamers

PHOENIX (CN) - Arizona asked the 9th Circuit to overturn a federal judge's order that "dreamers" can apply for driver's licenses in the state - an appeal that the state House Democratic leader called "political grandstanding."

Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed the notice of appeal Friday.

U.S. District Judge David Campbell ruled in December that undocumented immigrants protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program should be allowed to obtain driver's licenses in Arizona. He made the order permanent in January .

"The court is not saying that the Constitution requires the State of Arizona to grant driver's licenses to all noncitizens," Campbell found. "But if the state chooses to confer licenses on some individuals who have been temporarily authorized to stay by the federal government, it may not deny them to similarly situated individuals without a rational basis for the distinction."

The notice of appeal does not present any arguments for Arizona . It sets up a peculiar case of battling executive orders.

Texas and 25 other Republican-controlled states won an injunction last week blocking implementation of DACA, on the grounds that the president's executive order bypassed Congress. Arizona now contends, in effect, that its governor's executive order trumps the president's executive order.

"Driving is a privilege and not a right," the Attorney General's Office said in a statement. "Attorney General Brnovich believes it is up to each state, not the president, to determine who is eligible to receive a driver's license."

President Barack Obama announced DACA in 2012. It deferred deportation for qualifying immigrants younger than 31 who were brought to the country as children, lived in the United States continuously, attended school and had not committed any crimes.

The day the program took effect, then-Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer issued an executive order banning driver's licenses for "dreamers." The Arizona Dream Act Coalition et al. then sued the state, saying Brewer's executive order was unconstitutional.

Campbell did not block Brewer's order until a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit reversed his denial of an injunction.

Arizona Assistant House Democratic Leader Bruce Wheeler, a Democrat from Tucson, said the appeal is a waste of time.

"It is political grandstanding," Wheeler said. "Shame on the governor and the attorney general for standing in the doorway of young people trying to get to school and work."

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