Feathered Bastard

Jan Brewer Broadens Hateful Driver's License Ban Beyond DREAMers

Don't know how many of you are familiar with British conspiracy theorist David Icke, the guy who believes a secret race of shape-shifting lizard people have populated the planet in the guise of our political and cultural leaders, but I'm beginning to believe Icke's not spouting bunkum and has been right all along.

How else to explain someone as pro-actively hateful as Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, and her mean-spirited policy of denying driver's licenses to DREAMers who qualify for President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals?

Well, on Tuesday, Brewer removed all doubt with a filing in federal court as part of her defense of her 2012 executive order preventing law-abiding DREAMers, brought to this country while tots, from obtaining licenses to drive.

See, before Brewer's order, the Arizona Department of Transportation issued driver's licenses to all persons granted deferred action by the feds.

As proof of their deferred status, applicants were required to present a federally-issued employment authorization card, proving they were "authorized under federal law" to remain in the United States.

But in a fit of political spite aimed at the Obama administration, Brewer issued her executive order carving out an exception in ADOT policy, so as to deny DREAMers driver's licenses.

Brewer made clear her bigoted intent on the day of her executive order, declaring in her semi-illiterate way, that the policy meant, "No driver's license to illegal people [sic]."

As a result, the ACLU and other civil rights groups sued on behalf of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, seeking a preliminary injunction against the governor's order on the grounds that it violated the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution as well as the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law.

In May, U.S. District Court Judge David G. Campbell ruled against ADAC on the Supremacy Clause claim, dismissing it entirely.

But he rejected Brewer and ADOT's request for dismissal on the equal protection claim, agreeing with the plaintiffs that, "DACA recipients are similarly situated to other noncitizens holding [EACs] who are eligible to obtain driver's licenses in Arizona."

Campbell found that the claim fell short of the high bar for an injunction, while stating that the plaintiffs were likely to prevail in their assertion that Brewer's order was discriminatory.

Faced with an inevitable loss, Brewer and ADOT told the court that they would be reviewing state regulations, signaling a possible change.

But, of course, Brewer wasn't about to do the right thing and reverse her executive order.

Instead, ADOT extended its prejudiced policy to all those who receive deferred action status from the federal government, submitting its new regulations to the court yesterday.

Lawyers for ADOT and Brewer offer the following lame excuse for the state not being asses toward everyone who has received a work permit from the feds before now.

"When the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was announced," the governor's pettifoggers write, "ADOT became aware for the first time that certain non-immigrants without authorized presence under federal law were in some cases nevertheless eligible for EACs."

What an incredible pant-load. Not that it's impossible to believe that ADOT's muckety-mucks were so dumb they didn't know what they were doing prior to Brewer's 2012 order, but still...

The response from the ACLU to the court filing was swift and stinging. In a press release issued late Tuesday, the ACLU noted that over the last eight years, "the state of Arizona has issued licenses and ID cards nearly 40,000 times to noncitizens with work permits" from the federal government.

Attorney Karen Tumlin of the National Immigration Law Center, which along with the ACLU and MALDEF is representing the plaintiffs, stated that among those injured by Brewer's double-down on discrimination will be "survivors of domestic violence in the process of adjusting their status," who along with the DREAMers will be barred from getting driver's licenses.

"In her zealousness, Governor Brewer has made a policy change that isn't just anti-immigrant, it's also anti-woman," Tumlin says in the statement, adding, "This sort of policy change only demonstrates that Arizona's politicians care more about scoring political points than about ensuring the safety of their residents."

But if Brewer gets her jollies from stomping on students and wannabe U.S. soldiers, why not battered women as well?

Okay, so maybe Brewer isn't a lizard lady in human form, like one of those aliens in Men in Black, who unzip their outer selves to reveal the slimy monster beneath.

Sadly, she is human, all too human, not a Gila monster with bleached hair, as her actions would have us believe.

I know, she almost had me fooled as well.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons