Mark Brnovich wants to put the brakes on driver's licenses for Arizona's Dreamers.
The newly elected Arizona attorney general launched an appeal today to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, hoping to overturn an order last month that forces compliance with President Obama's executive action on immigration.
The move comes after this week's ruling by a federal judge in Texas that puts a temporary halt to Obama's plans to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).
As we reported on January 22, a coalition of immigrant-rights activists, including members of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition and the ACLU of Arizona, won the fight to get Dreamers legal approve to drive. Most of the Dreamers were brought to this country as children by their undocumented parents.
When the Obama administration created the DACA program in June 2012, it appeared that Arizona would have to begin granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, as many other states already did. Former Governor Jan Brewer wanted to keep the state's tougher policy, which required driver's license recipients to prove they're in the country legally. She issued an executive action in August 2012 to parry Obama's action, denying DACA participants the right to an Arizona license. The activists responded with their lawsuit.
Arizona U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell's order in January told Arizona that it had no business messing with federal immigration law. Obama's DACA participants had been given largely the same legal status as green-card holders, Campbell ruled. He placed a "permanent" block on Arizona from enforcing Brewer's 2012 action, which allowed DREAMers to begin applying for driver's licenses.
Not so fast, says Brnovich, by issuing his notice of appeal today.
We'll be interested to hear Brnovich's reasoning -- his spokesperson says we'll hear something from the office soon, so check back for updates.
Daniel Scarpinato, Governor Doug Ducey's spokesperson, says his office will issue a statement later about the development.
UPDATE: Brnovich's office got back to us with a short statement to clarify that driver's licenses and applications for Dreamers aren't affected by the appeal notice.
UPDATE: Brnovich's office released the following statement at 3:30 p.m.:
"Driving is a privilege and not a right. Attorney General Brnovich believes it is up to each state, not the president, to determine who is eligible to receive a driver's license. The Attorney General's Office filed a notice to preserve Arizona's right to appeal the DACA ruling in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Governor recently transferred this case to the Attorney General's Office and it is now being reviewed to determine the best course of action."
We emailed the office for clarification -- is Brnovich saying he isn't really appealing? The notice of appeal states that Arizona officials "appeal to...the Ninth Circuit."
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In any case, Brnovich's statement falls short of explaining why kids brought to this country by their parents should be denied a basic "privilege."
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