DACA/DREAM Frontera Fund News

Ducey Forced to Issue Driver’s Licenses to Domestic Violence Survivors Under Deferred Action

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Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

Former Arizona governor Jan Brewer, in her racism and hate, not only banned DREAMers’ access to driver’s licenses the same day Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was announced by President Obama in June 2012, but a year later extended the ban to other deferred action categories. This breathtaking action affected victims of domestic violence or other victims who in previous years were granted deferred deportation and a driver’s licenses in Arizona.

Brewer supposedly took this action to “avoid” the appearance of discrimination against DACA-DREAMers by banning all deferred action groups, even though all had been granted legal presence in the U.S. and a work permit.

In reality, this ban extension was legal garbage.

Yesterday, five years after this horrific extended ban, a federal judge barred Governor Ducey’s lawyer from continuing to deny driver’s licenses to those Deferred Action grantees.

Yes, Doug Ducey was unwilling to break away from Jan Brewer’s hateful immigration policies.

DREAMers had already won the legal battle against Arizona’s efforts to deny driver’s licenses, which we reported previously in Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund. That battle was fought all the way to the Supreme Court, which denied a hearing, and therefore the lower court decision stayed. Young immigrants under DACA had enjoyed the ability to obtain driver’s licenses due to an injunction while the case navigated its way through the courts.

Finally, yesterday Judge Campbell said the action of denying driver’s licenses to these other Deferred Action recipients is illegal. “The federal government makes no distinction,” he said.

This is in reference to the fact that all Deferred Action categories receive a federally issued work permit to allow grantees a dignified presence in this country.

Importantly, Judge Campbell said in his ruling that the legal proceedings of the case indicated the state was playing litigation games when changing policies to mask patent discrimination against DACA-DREAMers.

It is shameful that these legal maneuvers under Jan Brewer were continued by Governor Doug Ducey. He never committed to cleaning up the anti-immigrant climate created by Brewer that made headlines across the globe for its racism.

Now the state will be forced to issue driver’s licenses to all beneficiaries under the Deferred Action Program.

Doug Ducey better leave this decision alone.

Fighting these misguided anti-immigrant policies is a waste of taxpayer money, even if one does not care about immigrant rights.

Fighting young immigrants’ and domestic violence victims’ access to driver’s licenses in court is expensive because the state hired lawyers in posh law firms. I know this because I participated in the deposition for The ADAC v. Jan Brewer along with Dulce Matuz and others in an exquisitely decorated law firm in a tall building in downtown Phoenix.

This win for immigrant communities was possible thanks to great partners in the National Immigration Law Center, who litigated in both the DACA-DREAMers case and the extension of the ban case.

Nicholas Espiritu, a lawyer with NILC, told Howard Fisher, “These individuals will be able to go into MVDs throughout the state and present the same documents as all other individuals who are just like them, who have a document that proves their identity and proves their authorization to be in the country, and they’ll be able to get a driver’s license.”