In a move widely condemned as unnecessary, vengeful, and vindictive, Jan Brewer’s Arizona this week announced that it would no longer issue driver’s licenses to immigrants who receive deferred action.
Last year, on the very day that President Obama’s deferred action for DREAMers / DACA program began, Jan Brewer made headlines when she issued an executive order barring newly recognized DREAMers from being able to legally drive in Arizona. Almost every other state—at least 45 by NILC’s count—allows DACA-mented DREAMers to apply and test for a driver’s license. But Jan Brewer was apparently determined to show that she’s in charge, and now she is extending that same ban on driver’s license to other recipients of deferred action. That includes those who have recently had a deportation cancelled and then received authorization to temporarily live and work in the US, and those in the country for humanitarian reasons (like victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation). Over the past eight years, the state of Arizona had issued licenses and ID cards to nearly 40,000 noncitizens with work permits.
As Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona, said about the policy change:
This is a vindictive policy change that is motivated by politics, and Brewer’s desire to get out from under a lawsuit. It only reflects her continuing animus toward DREAMers and her irrational desire to punish even more lawfully present immigrants by denying them the licenses they need to get to work and school, including abused women and their children.
Echoed Petra Falcon, executive director of Promise Arizona:
Gov. Brewer’s decision to expand Arizona’s ban on driver’s licenses to young undocumented immigrants to include women, children and others seeking protection from domestic violence, human trafficking and sexual exploitation has moved this debate from a Constitutional question to just plain mean-spiritedness…
How does it make any sense to impede someone’s ability to get a job by taking away their driver’s license, especially in a sputtering economic recovery. The chambers of commerce need to tell the governor she’s wrong on this count. It not only prevents people who can work from getting jobs, but it sends a message to the country that Arizona does not welcome newcomers. Haven’t we done enough damage to our state’s image?