DACA/DREAM Frontera Fund News Trump Watch

Say What? Trump Administration Sides With DREAMers in Driver’s License Issue

Written by Carmen Cornejo

In a surprising declaration, the Trump administration said it is not providing help to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich in the state’s prolonged fight against DREAMers and their access to driver’s licenses, siding with the previous Ninth Circuit Decision that allows DACA beneficiaries to drive.

But do not get your expectations up.

Karina Ruiz, President of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition, the oldest immigrant youth-led organization in Arizona, applauds Trump’s Solicitor General Noel Francisco in his support of DREAMers’ access to driver’s licenses in Arizona.

“It is true what Mr. Francisco said, that Arizona is the only state in the nation that has battled DACA-DREAMers’ access to driver’s licenses for years,” Ruiz says. “I may add that this obsession to damage DACA beneficiaries is costly and unproductive. However, I sincerely question that the reason behind the support is the certainty the DACA program will end soon. I would not be so sure about it.”

Yes, Francisco said the program will end soon, and DACA beneficiaries’ driver’s licenses will expire as soon as their working permit (EAD) expires, so there is no need to fight anymore.

The opposition in Arizona to DREAMers’ access to driver’s licenses started the same day Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) started. Jan Brewer, in an incredibly hateful action, announced Arizona’s challenge to driver’s licenses access on June 15, 2012, just hours after President Obama announced the creation of the national program.

“I clearly remember that day, where we felt so happy for the creation of a process to protect us from deportation and an opportunity to work legally in our country, just to be disappointed by the actions of former Governor Brewer,” Ruiz says.

“Thanks to our supporters and advocates – among them ACLU, MALDEF, NILC – we have continued the fight, and the courts have consistently sided with us,” she adds. “Thanks to that support we are able to drive legally in Arizona.”

As we presented our reasons and arguments in court, it was evident for the judges [that] Arizona is an especially tough place for not being able to legally drive, since the state lacks reliable public transportation, the temperatures are extreme, especially in the summer, and many of us are parents of young children who are American citizens, and we need to drive them around for doctors’ appointments, school, and other activities,” Ruiz explains. “We are looking forward to the day the Supreme Court hears our case, since we feel confident the law is on our side.”

The debate in the courts centers around whether DACA recipients were “authorized by federal law,” to be in the country. Jan Brewer and now Governor Ducey say they are not.

This argument did not convince federal appellate judges, who said Arizona cannot decide who is legally entitled to be in this country.

Moreover, in a different court case, immigrant youth are fighting the Trump administration’s decision to eliminate DACA in a phase-out mode. Two federal courts already said that although Trump has the executive powers to rescind the program at any time, the reasons behind his action are not legally valid.

Noel Francisco put a request to the Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) to bypass appellate processes and take hearings on the DACA issue. We are waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision on whether to hear the case.

Stay tuned to the latest developments with Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund.