State Capitol News
7:22 am
Fri May 17, 2013

No Drivers' Licenses Yet For Deferred Action Program

Thousands of people accepted into the federal Deferred Action Program will not be getting state drivers' licenses - at least not yet. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.

Last year the Obama administration said those who arrived in this country illegally as children could stay and work. But Arizona Governor Jan Brewer directed transportation officials not to give them licenses, saying state law requires applicants to prove their presence is - quote - authorized by federal law. And she said the decision not to deport is not authorization. Attorneys for some in the deferred action program asked U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell to order the state to immediately issue them licenses, saying they were suffering irreparable harm. But Campbell ruled this week there was no such harm, noting some admitted they were driving anyway.

Gubernatorial press aide Matthew Benson said Brewer was cheered. "It's good news for the state of Arizona to see this injunction rejected and the policy will remain in place while the rest of the case proceeds," Benson said.

But the rest of the case may not go Brewer's way. Attorney Cecilia Wang of the ACLU noted that Campbell said there is evidence the state is violating constitutional equal protection requirements because it gives licenses to some in other deferred action programs. She said Brewer's opposition is political. "While the rest of the country is trying to figure out how to integrate dreamers and other aspiring citizens and while Congress is trying to get immigration reform, the governor of Arizona is digging in her heels and trying to move backward."