Jan Brewer's Anti-DACA Driver's License Policy Remains in Effect for Now

A federal appeals court last month ordered a temporarily end to Arizona's rules that prevent participants in the Obama Administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program from receiving driver's licenses, but that ban didn't take effect.

The state then asked that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals review its decision to enjoin Governor Jan Brewer's executive order denying the issuance of licenses to these young immigrants, so what was a major victory for DACA recipients in Arizona was put on hold.

"It's just shameful that the state is continuing to spend money defending this indefensible policy," ACLU of Arizona executive director Alessandra Soler tells New Times. "We've had a decision now by a lower court and an appellate court that the policy is discriminatory."

See also: -Brewer's Order to Deny Driver's Licenses for DACA Recipients Earns Her a Lawsuit

In early July, the Ninth Circuit ordered a preliminary injunction against the Brewer policy, which would have put a halt on it while the court case goes on. The three-judge panel found that the plaintiffs -- five DACA recipients in Arizona -- are "likely to suffer irreparable harm" unless the policy was enjoined.

Two years ago today, Brewer created the executive order over her apparent disagreement with the Obama Administration's DACA program, explaining that her move was to prevent "illegal people" from getting driver's licenses. However, her ban didn't include other non-citizens who have been allowed to get Arizona driver's licenses for years. After it became clear that the policy discriminated against a certain group of immigrants, Brewer's administration then revised the policy by extending the ban to more non-citizens, although they'd previously been able to obtain a license without any such trouble from Brewer.

Attorneys for the ACLU, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the National Immigration Law Center sought for the temporary ban on Brewer's policy, arguing that young immigrants in Arizona were suffering every day that they couldn't drive to work, despite their having employment authorization documents. (The plaintiffs are ultimately seeking a permanent ban on Brewer's order, citing constitutional violations.)

The appeals court panel issued that preliminary injunction against Brewer's policy "prohibiting Defendants from enforcing any policy by which the Arizona Department of Transportation refuses to accept Plaintiffs' Employment Authorization Documents, issued to Plaintiffs under DACA, as proof that Plaintiffs are authorized under federal law to be present in the United States."

However, the state has asked that a full 11-judge panel of the appeals court rule on the issue -- a request that prevents the injunction against Brewer's order from taking effect.

Again, attorneys for the plaintiffs are trying to get a temporary injunction against Brewer's order, citing the harm being done every day that these people with federal authorization to work can't get a driver's license.

"It's not at all lost on the legal team that we have 23,000 DACA recipients in Arizona who can't get a driver's license," National Immigration Law Center attorney Karen Tumlin says.

There's no telling how much longer it will take for another ruling on the temporary injunction.

Brewer's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

UPDATE 12:31 p.m.: Here's the response we got from Brewer's spokesman Andrew Wilder:

The ADAC filing isn't a story since it was hardly surprising. The only surprise is that the plaintiffs didn't originally file this motion with the 9th Circuit when the appeal was filed in 2013.

Now, after filing the same motion with the District Court -- which speedily denied it last week -- plaintiffs have chosen to file the same tired motion in the 9th Circuit, who is seriously contemplating the state's en banc appeal that the panel ruling was wrong.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley