Once again, Arizona is on the losing end of an immigration controversy courtesy of a Federal Appeals Court. Arizona sought to deny state driver’s license to immigrants who were granted deferred action in President Obama’s executive action creating what is commonly known as the DREAM ACT. The regulation, officially called Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”), gave legal status to hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents or someone else when they were still minors. The legal status is a deferred action which, in this case, means the privilege of remaining in the United States without fear of being placed in removal proceedings or deportation, and with the permission to continue school studies and/or work legally in the United States.
Governor Jan Brewer is the Governor of Arizona, one of two states that refused to issue licenses to the immigrants. Recently, Arizona also lost a court decision striking down most of its 2010 immigration enforcement law. A panel of Federal Judges in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that there was no legitimate state interest in treating these immigrants who have been granted deferred action differently from other noncitizens who are allowed to apply for driver’s licenses. The Court found that the policy that Arizona enforced denying the licenses to the DACA recipients was purely punitive and intended to express hostility toward them.
So far, at least 520,000 people have taken advantage of DACA including 19,000 in Arizona. DACA helps immigrants who came to the United States before their 16thbirthday and who were under 30 in 2012 when President Obama to the administrative steps to assist this immigrant group when Congress would not.
The other efforts for these immigrants is to convince state universities to allow for in-state tuition for DACA students. Arizona is one of the states that deny the less expensive tuition if the student is an illegal immigrant, despite being granted DACA.