The American Civil Liberties Union says the federal government has confirmed what ACLU officials have been saying all along -- participants in the Obama Administration's deferred-action program should be allowed to apply for driver's licenses.
That's not exactly what U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is saying, but the ACLU's claim does make sense.
-Jan Brewer's Order to Deny Driver's Licenses Earns Her a Lawsuit
-Jan Brewer to DREAMers: State Laws Bar You from Drivers Licenses
-Jan Brewer's Order Has "Absolutely No Basis Under State or Federal Law," ACLU Says
In November, the ACLU and other organizations filed a lawsuit against Governor Jan Brewer's executive order, which blocks the immigrants who are granted deferred action from obtaining driver's licenses or any other "taxpayer-funded public benefits."
"As stated by Defendant Brewer, the Executive Order makes clear that there will be 'no drivers licenses for illegal people,' and in her opinion, '[t]he Obama amnesty plan doesn't make them [legal] here,'" the lawsuit states. "Defendant Brewer's Executive Order reflects her apparent disagreement with the federal government's decision to allow young immigrants who qualify under the DACA program to remain in the United States."
Now, the ACLU says immigration officials have confirmed that the people in the program are "authorized to stay and lawfully present in the country" -- not "illegal people."
In Brewer's order, she states that the people in the deferred-action program do not have "any lawful or authorized status and does not entitle them to any additional public benefit," which includes driver's licenses.
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The ACLU is pointing to a guide on the USCIS website, which gets into terminology related to immigration law, but seems to contradict Brewer's order.
"An individual who has received deferred action is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be present in the United States, and is therefore considered by DHS to be lawfully present during the period deferred action is in effect," the website says. "However, deferred action does not confer lawful status upon an individual, nor does it excuse any previous or subsequent periods of unlawful presence."
This is a point the ACLU has been arguing all along, as the lawsuit claims that Brewer's order essentially declares that people who are granted "authorized" presence are actually "unauthorized."
We sent an e-mail to Brewer's spokesman to get a response, and we'll update this post if anything comes back.