Arizona Fights Driver’s Licenses for Dreamers

     PASADENA, Calif. (CN) – Arizona on Thursday asked the Ninth Circuit to deny driver’s licenses to young immigrants by finding unlawful an Obama administration policy providing qualifying people with work permits and protection from deportation.
     The case has roots in a 2012 lawsuit against Arizona’s former Republican Governor Janice Brewer. The Arizona Dream Act Coalition challenged the state’s denial of driver’s licenses to beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The policy can benefit qualifying undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before they turned 16.
     During oral arguments at the Richard H. Chambers Courthouse on Thursday, more than 30 demonstrators marched outside the courthouse holding placards: “Hands Off DACA.” Their chants filtered into the courtroom as attorneys made their arguments mid-morning.
     Judge Harry Pregerson asked Arizona Deputy Solicitor General Dominic Draye a question that echoed the demonstrators’ concerns.
     “What is the problem? Does it come down to racism? Does it come down to discrimination against these people?” Pregerson asked.
     About 80,000 young immigrants were eligible for the program in Arizona, the Dreamers said in their lawsuit. Brewer issued her executive order on Aug. 15, 2012 – the same day U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services started to accept applications for the program.
     Since September 2012 the Arizona Department of Transportation has barred young immigrants from submitting employment authorization paperwork.
     Arizona U.S. District Judge David Campbell ruled this year that the Arizona law is unconstitutional, finding the Dreamers “similarly situated” to other non-citizens who can apply for and obtain licenses. He lifted the ban on applications .
     During the Thursday hearing, Draye urged the court to reverse, claiming that it’s Obama’s policy that violates the Constitution.
     In Arizona’s opening brief , Draye wrote that no “federal statute or common law power authorizes the president to enact wholesale, class-wide exemptions from duly-enacted laws.” He wrote that it is “impossible” to conclude that the Dreamers are “similarly situated” to other non-citizens whose employment papers establish that they are legally resident in the country.
     Draye wrote that Arizona looks to the Immigration and Nationality Act to determine whether a driver’s license applicant is authorized to stay in the United States, not the DACA. (The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 was amended in 1965.)
     “These groups are not similarly situated, so judgment was not correct,” Draye told the three judges on Thursday.
     Draye asked the panel to remand or overturn the ruling.
     Karen Tumlin of the Immigration Law Center told the judges there is “nothing new” about Arizona’s arguments, and that three years down the line the law still “singles out” Dreamers.
     “This case is about discrimination, pure and simple,” Tumlin told the court. She said Arizona should not be given a “license” to discriminate. Tumlin wrote the Dream Act Coalition’s opening brief .
     Judge Marsha Berzon and Judge Morgan Christen, appearing via video, joined Pregerson on the panel.
     Pregerson said at the end of the hearing that the court would decide the case “as soon as we can.”

%d bloggers like this: