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Brewer's Defeat With AZ Driver's Licenses Should Be Warning to GOP Governors Opposed to Executive Action

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On the first day of DACA implementation in August 2012, DREAMers around the nation lined up by the thousands to seek application guidance and file for relief.  It was a historic day, momentous and jubilant for DREAMers, allies, and the immigration reform movement.

And then in swooped Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer (R), who chose that day to announce an executive order that commentators called “mean-spirited” and indicative of her “unlimited supply of antagonism toward the undocumented”.  Brewer, claiming that “the Obama amnesty plan doesn’t make [DREAMers] legally here,” said that she would be barring Arizona DREAMers from legally driving in her state.

In July of this year, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Brewer’s ban as unconstitutional.  Yesterday, the court rejected Brewer’s request to reconsider its ruling.  Driver’s licenses for Arizona DREAMers will finally become a reality, just in time for DAPA (Deferred Action for Parent Arrivals, the executive order President Obama announced last week), which will begin implementation next spring.

As Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said in a statement:

With today’s decision, the court has made crystal clear that Arizona’s quixotic quest to turn immigrants into villains is constitutionally unsound, and it vindicates our courageous plaintiffs.  This should serve as a wakeup call for the new governor: Do what’s best for your state by allowing everyone who should be able to get a license to do so, so they can drive to school and work and participate fully in their communities.

At least 45 states already allow DREAMers to legally drive.  Even before DAPA, states like Illinois and California had passed bills allowing undocumented immigrants to apply and test for driver’s licenses.  USCIS now acknowledges that deferred action allows those who obtain it to be “considered lawfully present in the United States during that time.”

All of this should be a warning to the GOP governors already threatening to ignore President Obama’s executive action in their states.