Category Archives: September 2013

Arizona Governor Extends Discriminatory Ban

September 17, 2013

Adela de la Torre, 213-400-7822, [email protected]

Arizona Governor Extends Discriminatory Driver’s License Ban Against DREAMers to Other Immigrants, Including Certain Domestic Violence Survivors

PHOENIX — A coalition of immigrant and civil rights organizations today criticized a new Arizona Motor Vehicle Division policy ending the practice of issuing drivers’ licenses to certain immigrants who receive federal authorization to live and work in the United States.

“In her zealousness, Governor Brewer has made a policy change that isn’t just anti-immigrant, it’s also anti-woman,” said Karen Tumlin, managing attorney of the National Immigration Law Center. “Now, survivors of domestic violence who are in the process of adjusting their status will be unable to obtain the licenses they need. This sort of policy change only demonstrates that Arizona’s politicians care more about scoring political points than about ensuring the safety of their residents.”

The state announced today that it will end its well-established practice of issuing licenses to all immigrants granted “deferred action” by the federal government, which allows them to remain in the country for a certain period without the threat of deportation, and makes them eligible for work permits and Social Security Numbers. Over the past eight years, the state of Arizona has issued licenses and ID cards nearly 40,000 times to noncitizens with work permits, according to news reports. In August of 2012, the Governor issued an order specifically denying licenses to young immigrants known as DREAMers , who are granted permission to live and work here under one federal deferred action program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Now, she is extending the policy to include other immigrants granted deferred action status.

“Governor Brewer can try to put lipstick on this pig, but it’s still a pig,” said Jenny Chang Newell, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Arizona’s policy of denying licenses to DREAMers is still unconstitutional, even if the state has decided to apply it to yet more immigrants who have federal permission to live and work here. Rather than excluding more hard-working immigrants, Arizona should join the rest of the country in finding long-term solutions that will help them achieve the American dream.”

The policy change comes on the heels of a federal district court decision in May in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Immigration Law Center, the Mexican American Legal and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and the ACLU of Arizona. The decision found that Governor Brewer’s August 2012 order denying DREAMers licenses was discriminatory. Among those who will now be denied licenses are immigrants who have been permitted by the federal government to remain in the country for humanitarian reasons, including certain survivors of domestic violence and victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

“This is a vindictive policy change that is motivated by politics, and Brewer’s desire to get out from under a lawsuit,” said Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona. “It only reflects her continuing animus toward DREAMers and her irrational desire to punish even more lawfully present immigrants, including abused women and children.”

Although in its May decision, the court declined to enjoin the policy affecting DREAMers, it concluded that the policy unfairly singled out these young immigrants, while allowing other similar groups of immigrants to obtain licenses, including all other immigrants granted deferred action and a work permit. Rather than ending the practice of excluding the young immigrants, Brewer decided to extend the ban to other immigrants who’ve been granted driver’s licenses for years.

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Policies Advance in States

September 4, 2013

Gebe Martinez, 703-731-9505, [email protected]

Inclusive Immigration Policies Advance Dramatically in the States

LOS ANGELES — While Congress debates whether to vote on immigration reform this year, state legislatures have enacted laws that expand immigrants’ access to driver’s licenses, education, and workers’ rights and that promote community policing policies, according to a new analysis by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC).

In a striking reversal from state legislative sessions of the previous few years, when several states enacted anti-immigrant laws modeled on Arizona’s SB 1070, most of which have been successfully challenged in court, only one state, Georgia, enacted a restrictive measure in 2013. That law bars the use of certain documents to establish identity.

“Rather than promoting a larger role for states in immigration enforcement, proposals in several states sought to build trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities,” the report states.

“Congress should heed the lessons learned in the states. States have learned that scapegoating immigrants can harm all of a state’s residents and, on the other hand, that investing in immigrant students, workers, and families yields economic and social benefits for the community as a whole,” said Marielena Hincapié, NILC’s executive director.

In Congress, the House Judiciary Committee has approved the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act (H.R. 2278) and sent it to the House floor. The SAFE Act’s provisions focus one-dimensionally on immigration enforcement in ways that would actually promote racial profiling and unconstitutional detentions without fixing the broken immigration system’s myriad problems. This House enforcement-only bill would authorize states and localities to create and enforce their own penalties for immigration violations. The bill directly contradicts the spirit and substance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in Arizona v. United States, which affirms the longstanding exclusive authority of the federal government to regulate our nation’s immigration laws rather than having a patchwork system of state immigration enforcement laws.

Enactment of a law such as the SAFE Act would be a step backwards for the country and would be in stark contrast to the more inclusive direction states have taken this year.

Among the inclusive immigration laws and policies adopted by states this year:

• Seven states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico will provide access to driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status.
• Five states expanded access to higher education for immigrant students.
• One state enacted a domestic workers’ bill of rights.
• Two states and several localities enacted laws or policies aimed at building trust between local law enforcement and immigrant communities.

The NILC report, whose title is “Inclusive Policies Advance Dramatically in the States: Immigrants’ Access to Driver’s Licenses, Higher Education, Workers’ Rights, and Community Policing,” attributes the shift in state polices to increased civic engagement and organizing by immigrant communities. According to the report, “In places where earlier waves of anti-immigrant activism produced restrictive policies, residents increasingly find that the policies are unworkable legally, practically, and politically, which is motivating them to explore more inclusive alternatives.”

The report can be downloaded from

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