Governor Jan Brewer's declaration that participants in the Obama Administration's deferred-action program can't get driver's licenses "has absolutely no basis under state or federal law," according to the head of the ACLU of Arizona.
Brewer's order blocks the immigrants who are granted deferred action from obtaining driver's licenses or any other "taxpayer-funded public benefits."
The ACLU of Arizona is still looking into the legality of various parts of Brewer's order, but the organization's director, Alessandra Soler, tells New Times it's pretty clear that these people can receive driver's licenses -- contrary to the governor's claims.
Brewer correctly states that laws on the books prevent "unlawfully present aliens" from obtaining state identifications. The problem with that, Soler says, is that people granted deferred action will have authorized presence.
"She's treating this category of non-citizens....differently," Soler says.
She explained that other immigrants not in the deferred-action program who have "authorized presence" through other means have previously been able to obtain state IDs. So, more people would get screwed over by what Soler describes as an incorrect interpretation of state and federal laws.
Plus, the people who receive work permits in the deferred action might need IDs for several reasons -- like, ya know, getting to work when public transportation simply isn't an option.
"If [the state is] going to deny licenses, it's going to have a tremendously negative impact on their lives," Soler says.
The ACLU of Arizona is currently considering a lawsuit, she says.
Soler reminded us that Brewer doesn't quite have the best track record when it comes to meddling with federal immigration laws. She's got a point.