Court Blocks Arizona DACA Driver’s License Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 23, 2015

CONTACT
Victoria Johnson,773-818-9222, johnson@nilc.org
Larry Gonzalez, MALDEF, 202-466-0879, lgonzalez@rabengroup.com
Isabel Alegría, American Civil Liberties Union, 646-438-4146, ialegria@aclu.org
Steve Kilar, ACLU of Arizona, 602-492-8540, skilar@acluaz.org

Federal Court Permanently Blocks Discriminatory Arizona Ban on Driver’s Licenses for Immigrant Youth

PHOENIX — Late yesterday, a federal district court judge in Arizona permanently blocked a ban on drivers’ licenses for immigrant youth ordered by Governor Jan Brewer. The ruling is the latest in a series of victories for DREAMers in Arizona Dream Act Coalition v. Brewer, a lawsuit brought by civil rights groups challenging the state’s denial of licenses to immigrants who have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) under a federal program.

The National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona, and MALDEF challenged the executive order and related policies in court, alleging that the ban violates DACA recipients’ constitutional right to equal protection under the law as well as the principles of federal supremacy in the area of immigration policy and law.

The discriminatory policy was ordered by Governor Brewer in 2012 shortly after the Obama administration announced its DACA program. In July 2014, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the policy was likely unconstitutional and that the group of young people — who have permission from the federal government to live and work in the U.S. — are seriously impaired by their inability to get drivers’ licenses.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Arizona’s motion to stay the Ninth Circuit decision. On December 22, 2014, Arizona began issuing driver’s licenses to DREAMers for the first time. And, last night, the Arizona district court reached its final resolution on the case, finding the policy violated the DREAMers’ equal protection rights, and entered a permanent injunction of the discriminatory ban.

“Once again, DREAMers have made history in Arizona,” said Korina Iribe, local campaigns field organizer for ADAC. “Despite the continuous challenges that our state government poses against us and our families, the ADAC has continued to empower and organize our communities. Thanks to that, we have defeated Governor Brewer’s discriminatory actions against our right to drive. We are hopeful that our new Governor, Doug Ducey, will not follow Brewer’s steps and refrains from further appeals of this decision. This will show if he is on the side of justice and common sense, or on the side of Brewer’s failed tactics.”

“This is a great victory for young immigrants who courageously challenged this discriminatory ban on their ability to get driver’s licenses. The court’s decision also reaffirms the constitutional principle of equal protection under the law,” said Nicholas Espíritu, NILC staff attorney.

“The court’s order protects the equal rights afforded to all persons in this country,” said Jorge Castillo, MALDEF staff attorney. “It also ensures that our clients will be able to drive to work or school, fulfilling the purpose behind their grant of deferred action.”

“We hope this is the last nail in the coffin for Arizona’s unconstitutional, discriminatory policy against immigrant youth,” said Jennifer Chang Newell, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “DREAMers can now get on with their lives and fully contribute their talents to their communities and the state.”

A copy of today’s decision is available from www.nilc.org/document.html?id=1191.

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