Court blocks Ariz. from denying driver’s licenses to young immigrants

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An appeals court on Monday halted Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s (R) policy of denying driver’s licenses to people who came to the U.S. illegally as children but received deportation deferrals from the Obama administration.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sided with immigration advocates who said the young immigrants would be harmed by the unequal treatment from the state, according to The Associated Press.

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Brewer had issued an executive order in August 2012 directing state agencies to deny these public benefits to young immigrants who received work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

In May 2013, a U.S. District Court judge rejected immigration advocates’ arguments that the policy violated federal law. However, the judge noted that Arizona continued to grant other immigrants who didn’t qualify for DACA driver’s licenses, suggesting the state was treating people unequally.

Late last summer, Arizona altered the program and said it would stop issuing driver’s licenses to all people who receive deportation deferrals, not just young people who qualified under DACA.

The court still found the policy resulted in unequal treatment, however.

President Obama announced the DACA program in June 2012, which delays deportations for two years under certain guidelines. Recipients, for instance, must have come to the U.S. before they turned 16, must be younger than 30 and must have been in the U.S. for at least five consecutive years. They also must currently be in school or have graduated from high school or a GED program or served in the military.

Nebraska has a similar policy in place in which driver’s licenses are denied to DACA recipients. A federal judge tossed out a lawsuit challenging the law earlier this year. The judge said a DACA recipient failed to provide sufficient evidence showing the Department of Motor Vehicles failed to follow Nebraska’s policies over issuing licenses to people who were granted deferred action.

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