Supreme Court Refuses to Allow Arizona to Deny Driver’s Licenses to Immigrant Youth

DREAMers Should Receive Licenses Pending High Court Review of State’s Appeal Request.


Washington, D.C. – Immigrant youth will be allowed to receive driver’s licenses in Arizona while the Supreme Court considers whether or not to hear an appeal of a Ninth Circuit ruling in Arizona Dream Act Coalition v. Brewer, a lawsuit challenging the state’s denial of licenses to immigrants who have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) under a federal program.

Arizona had asked the high court to stay the Ninth Circuit Court’s mandate while it considered Arizona’s request for certiorari, or judicial review of the federal appeals court ruling in the case.

“Arizona continues to appeal and lose, at great taxpayer expense,” said Victor Viramontes, MALDEF National Senior Counsel. “Now, the federal courts are directing Arizona to issue drivers’ licenses to DACA recipients and stop their established pattern of violating constitutional rights.”

“This is a victory for the community. It will change many lives for the better,” said Carla Chavarria, a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “Personally I will be able to run my business more effectively and no longer have to rely on public transportation. We will be able to contribute to our state without any boundaries.”

The Supreme Court’s denial today of Arizona’s stay motion opens the way for the Arizona district court to issue a preliminary injunction prohibiting the state from continuing to deny driver’s licenses to DACA recipients. Once the district court enters an injunction, the young immigrants would be allowed to receive driver’s licenses.

“This order is a big holiday gift to the DREAMers – and a lump of coal for Governor Brewer,” said Jennifer Chang Newell, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “It’s time for Arizona leaders to put this unwise, discriminatory policy behind them and let it end with Governor Brewer’s term.”

Today’s decision is the latest victory in a civil rights coalition’s lawsuit against the policy, ordered by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer in 2012 shortly after the Obama administration announced its DACA program. In July, the  United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the policy was likely unconstitutional and that the group of young people—who have permission from the federal government to live and work in the U.S.—are seriously impaired by their inability to get drivers’ licenses.

“Justice, in this case, took more than two years to finally be delivered, but we’re no less pleased with the outcome,” said Karen Tumlin, managing attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “Soon, immigrant youth will be able to contribute more fully to their communities and economy, and they’ll finally have the identification proving on paper what they already know: that they are Arizonans.”

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center, and the ACLU of Arizona challenged the executive order and related policies in court, alleging that the ban violates DACA recipients’ constitutional right to equal protection under the law as well as the principles of federal supremacy in the area of immigration policy and law.


About Ramón Jiménez

Ramón Jiménez, actual Managing Editor de MetroLatinoUSA. Periodista que cubre eventos de las comunidades latinas en Washington D.C., Maryland y Virginia. Graduado de la Escuela de Periodismo de la Universidad del Distrito de Columbia. Galardonado en numerosas ocasiones por parte de la Asociación Nacional de Publicaciones Hispanas (NAHP) y otras organizaciones comunitarias y deportivas de la región metropolitana de esta capital. También premiado en dos ocasiones como Mejor Periodista del Año por la cobertura de la comunidad salvadoreña; premios otorgados por la Oficina de Asuntos Latinos del Alcalde de Washington (OLA) y otras organizaciones. Ha sido miembro del jurado calificador en diferentes concursos literarios, de belleza y talento en la región metropolitana. Ha visitado zonas de desastre en Nicaragua, Honduras y El Salvador e invitado a esos países por organizaciones que asisten a personas de escasos recursos económicos. Antes trabajó en otros medios de prensa de Virginia y Washington, D.C., incluyendo reportajes para una agencia noticiosa mundial.

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