Thursday, November 29, 2012



Note: Yet again, unless something has changed, the primary ID for
purchase of firearms remains the driver's license.

Lawsuit expected on immigrant driver's licenses
By Daniel González
The Republic |
Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:36 PM

A group of civil-liberties and immigrant-rights organizations is
expected to file a lawsuit today challenging Gov. Jan Brewer's
executive order denying driver's licenses to young undocumented
immigrants approved for federal work permits under President Barack
Obama's deferred-action program.

The lawsuit would mark the first legal challenge against a state for
denying driver's licenses to young undocumented immigrants authorized
to live and work temporarily in the U.S. under the program.

The lawsuit could affect other states that have also denied driver's
licenses to non-citizens protected from deportation under the
program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

The lawsuit is expected to be filed by the Arizona and national
chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American
Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the National Immigration Law

The same groups are involved in an ongoing civil-rights lawsuit
challenging Arizona's immigration-enforcement law, Senate Bill 1070.

The organizations have scheduled a news conference for this morning
on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University to announce a "major
lawsuit against the state of Arizona." The groups have declined to
discuss the lawsuit.

But several immigration lawyers said the ACLU and other groups have
been working on a legal challenge since Brewer issued her executive
order on Aug. 15, the day the federal government began accepting
applications for the deferred-action-from-deportation program.

"This lawsuit and the state having to defend that lawsuit has been
long expected," said Gerald Burns, a Chandler immigration lawyer who
represents several young undocumented immigrants who have applied for
deferred action under the program.

The deferred-action program, announced by Obama on June 15, allows
young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to
apply for a two-year reprieve from deportation. Those approved for
the program by meeting criteria, including graduating from high
school or obtaining a GED diploma, and passing a criminal-background
check, also receive a federal employment-authorization document, or
work permit.

Immigrant advocates say deferred-action recipients need driver's
licenses to travel to school and jobs.

As many as 1.7 million undocumented immigrants under 31 brought to
the U.S. before they were 16 could be eligible for the program,
including 80,000 in Arizona.

A total of 308,935 undocumented immigrants had applied for deferred
action nationally, including 11,074 in Arizona, as of Nov. 15,
according to the Department of Homeland Security.

A total of 53,273 nationally have been approved, according to the DHS.

Obama's program was seen as an election-year move aimed at winning
back the support of Latino voters disappointed with his failure to
get immigration reforms, including a legalization program for the
nation's 11million undocumented immigrants, passed during his first
term in office as promised. The program is credited with helping
Obama win re-election with more than 70 percent of the Latino vote.

Brewer, meanwhile, has taken a hard line on immigration. Her order
was seen as a way of rebuffing Obama's deferred-action program as
political payback after he asked the Justice Department to file a
lawsuit challenging SB 1070, which Brewer said was needed because the
federal government had failed to stop illegal immigration.

"They changed the rules in the middle of the game when it came to
driver's licenses and they did it as a political reaction to DACA,"
Burns said.

In her executive order, Brewer directed all state agencies to take
steps to ensure that any undocumented immigrants granted deferred
action would not receive any public benefits from the state,
including driver's licenses. As a result, the Arizona Department of
Transportation's Motor Vehicle Division determined that the agency
would not give driver's licenses to anyone with a federal employment-
authorization document obtained through Obama's deferred-action program.

State law requires anyone applying for a driver's license to prove
their presence in the United States is authorized under federal law.
Brewer has argued that the employment-authorization documents issued
to deferred-action recipients don't meet state law because DHS
officials have said the documents don't give undocumented immigrants
any sort of legal status, just the ability to live and work in the
U.S. temporarily without the threat of being deported.

But Brewer's order contradicts the state's long-standing policy of
granting driver's licenses to non-citizens, including illegal
immigrants, with the same employment-authorization documents granted
to deferred-action recipients, said Regina Jefferies, a Phoenix
immigration lawyer and chair of the Arizona chapter of the American
Civil Liberties Union.

For years, the federal government has granted work permits to non-
citizens for a variety of reasons, including to illegal immigrants
with deportation-cancellation cases pending in Immigration Court.

Last week, The Arizona Republic and its broadcast partner 12 News
reported that over the past eight years, Arizona has issued licenses
and state ID cards nearly 40,000 times to non-citizens who had
federal employment-authorization documents, according to data
obtained through a public-records request from the MVD. The data also
showed that since Brewer's order, the state has issued more than
1,000 driver's licenses or ID cards to non-citizens with work permits
while denying licenses to those with work permits issued through
Obama's program.

Burns, the Chandler lawyer, said it does not make sense politically
to continue to deny driver's licenses to deferred-action recipients
in light of a growing push by Republicans in Congress to legalize
undocumented immigrants to attract Latino voters after Republican
presidential nominee Mitt Romney's defeat in November.

On Tuesday, retiring Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Kay Bailey
Hutchison, R-Texas, introduced legislation that would let young
undocumented immigrants earn permanent legal status, but not
citizenship, if they graduate from college or serve four years in the

"Does it really make sense for the state of Arizona to fight and
expend resources on this?" Burns said. "The rest of the U.S. is
moving towards doing something about comprehensive immigration reform."

Muzaffar Chishti, of the Migration Policy Institute's office at New
York University School of Law, said four states in addition to
Arizona have taken action to deny driver's licenses to deferred-
action recipients: Nebraska, Texas, Michigan and Mississippi.

None has faced a legal challenge.

Four other states, California, Massachusetts, Georgia and Wisconsin,
specifically allow deferred-action recipients to get driver's licenses.

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