DACA/DREAM Frontera Fund News

Supreme Court Asks for Additional Briefing On The Arizona DREAM Act Coalition, et al v. Brewer

Written by Carmen Cornejo

The Supreme Court of the USA has decided today, Monday 6/26/17, to ask the United States Solicitor General for additional briefing regarding The Arizona Dream Act Coalition, et al vs. Brewer, a lawsuit initiated against Governor Jan Brewer the same day that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was announced, when Brewer denied young immigrants protected by the Deferred Action known as DACA access to driver’s licenses. The lawsuit has unfortunately and regrettably continued under Governor Ducey.

On June 15, 2012, President Obama signed an executive order calling for the deferred action for undocumented youth who came to the U.S. as children. The program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, allows young immigrants, who meet a specific set of criteria and pay application fees, to get work permits and Social Security Numbers, and lets them remain in the country without the threat of deportation for a renewable period of two years.

Since then, it is estimated that 28,000 young immigrants have been beneficiaries of the DACA program in Arizona.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) filed on November of 2012 a class-action lawsuit challenging Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s unconstitutional executive order, which denies driver’s licenses to a specific class of immigrant youth despite being authorized to live and work in the United States.

The lawsuit says Arizona’s policy violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause by discriminating against certain noncitizens, and also violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution by interfering with federal immigration law.

In a breathtaking effort to confront the problems raised by the attack on immigrant youth under the lawsuit, in September of 2013, Governor Brewer expanded the driver’s license ban to include all individuals granted deferred action, even though it is a benefit given to deferred action recipients across the country.  In July 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that Arizona’s policy denying licenses to DACA recipients was illegal and blocked the policy. Efforts by the Governor and the state of Arizona to reverse the block and keep the ban in place were rejected by the Supreme Court, and in January 2015 a federal court permanently blocked Arizona’s denial of licenses to DREAMers

Additionally, on April 5, 2016, The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s ruling that permanently blocks Arizona from denying driver’s licenses to immigrants who have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Asking the Solicitor General for their views on a federal policy is a common practice. In fact, the federal government was asked to opine on this case already — and came out in favor of DREAMers.

President Trump has repeatedly said that Dreamers with DACA are not on the chopping block under his administration and that immigrant youth across the country “should rest easy.” His administration must now live up to those promises and defend against Arizona’s attack on federal immigration law.

Karina Ruiz, The Arizona Dream Act Coalition states: “DREAMers stories of success inspire our community to continue the fight along with our supporters from the civil rights organizations who have litigated for our cause with knowledge and passion for almost five years.”

“Hopefully, we will see soon that Arizona will be a State that capitalizes on DREAMers youth, energy, and successes instead of litigating against young people who just want a fair chance to live peacefully in the place we call home; be treated like everybody else, by obtaining a driver’s licenses to go to school and work.  Allowing dreamer to drive has been good policy.”

As of right now, nothing has changed in the case.  The DACA program remains in place, and the State of Arizona must continue to issue driver’s licenses to DACA recipients.   


Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund will bring the latest development on this story.