Court gives Arizona's illegal immigrants a ticket to ride

by Kristen Flavin
Posted 7/08/14, 02:00 pm

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday struck down an Arizona policy prohibiting young illegal immigrants from getting drivers’ licenses.

In 2012, the Obama administration announced a new policy called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). It protects from deportation immigrants who arrived in the United States before age 16. The same day DACA went into effect, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer passed an executive order preventing state officials from issuing any form of identification, including drivers’ licenses, to illegal immigrants residing in the state.

The three-judge appellate court ruled struck down Brewer’s order on the grounds that it violated the equal protection requirements of the U.S. Constitution.

“It is outrageous, though not entirely surprising, that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has once again dealt a blow to Arizona’s ability to enforce its laws,” Brewer said in reaction to the decision. “This continues us down a dangerous path in which the courts and the president, not Congress, make our nation’s laws.”

Dan Pochoda, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, told the Los Angeles Times he was thrilled with the decision. “The plaintiffs were significantly harmed by this ugly, vindictive policy.”

DACA directs government agencies such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to “exercise prosecutorial discretion as appropriate” with participants.

The program requires applicants to be enrolled in school or have a high school or GED diploma, be in good standing with the law, and have continuously resided in the United States since June 2007.

In Arizona alone, 19,000 people have been accepted into the program, which has accepted 520,000 individuals in total.

Arizona has been fighting with the federal government for many years over illegal immigration. In 2010, Brewer signed a bill to identify and deport illegal immigrants. Though the Supreme Court struck down most of the law in 2012, it upheld the most controversial section requiring Arizona police to check the immigration status of individuals suspected of breaking other laws.

Brewer says she’ll continue opposing Obama's immigration policy: “The American people are tired and disgusted by what is happening through our federal government today, but they can be assured Arizona will continue to fight for the rule of law.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kristen Flavin

Kristen is a field producer for The World and Everything in It.

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