Arizona loses on denying drivers licenses to DACA recipients


The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected the last-ditch plea by Attorney General Mark Brnovich to uphold a 2012 executive order by then-Gov. Jan Brewer to deny licenses to DACA recipients, an order current Gov. Doug Ducey has left in place. The justices gave no reason for their ruling. U.S. Supreme Court allows ‘Dreamers’ to drive:

Arizona’s “dreamers” will keep their licenses to drive – at least as long as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program remains in existence.

Monday’s ruling ends years of efforts by the state to claim that the decision by the Obama administration to allow those in the program to remain in this country and work does not mean they are “authorized” to be here.
That verbiage is significant.

It was shortly after the action by Obama that Brewer directed the state Department of Transportation to deny licenses to DACA recipients. She cited a 1996 Arizona law that says state licenses are available only to those whose presence in this country is “authorized by federal law.”

Brewer argued that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has no legal authority to permit DACA recipients to remain and work. And what that meant, Brewer said, is they were not “authorized” to be here.

That argument failed to persuade federal appellate judges who said Arizona cannot decide for itself who is legally entitled to be in the country. In fact, Judge Harry Pregerson wrote that the state policy “appears intended to express animus toward DACA recipients.”

With today’s high court action, that ruling is now final.

At last count there were about 30,000 DACA recipients in Arizona.

ADOT does not have current figures on how many of them have been issued licenses while the case was pending. The last update, in April 2016, showed more than 21,000 DACA recipients with licenses.

Racist Jan Brewer told Capitol Media Services she was disappointed not only in Monday’s ruling but also in the fact that the Department of Justice, now under the control of Donald Trump who she supported for president, asked the Supreme Court to reject Arizona’s petition. And the former governor said she still maintains that she was correct in arguing that Arizona has the right to decide who does and does not get a state-issued driver’s license.

“Obviously, they trampled all over the Tenth Amendment,” she said, which says powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution “are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” And she called DACA “an illegal Obama executive action that trumped states’ rights.”

That essentially was the same argument Brnovich made to the high court. He said that what Obama did was not done as part of any federal law or even the result of Congress directing the Department of Homeland Security to adopt a rule.

In fact, he argued, the Office of Legal Counsel within the U.S. Department of Justice said in its own writing that DACA “does not establish any enforceable legal right to remain in the United States — and it may be revoked by immigration authorities at their discretion.”

Brewer said Monday’s ruling leaves just two options going forward.

One is for Trump to rescind DACA, something the president [did last September with a March 2018 deadline].

But those efforts have so far been blocked by a federal judge. The Supreme Court has refused to intercede, at least not now, meaning there will be no final decision before at least this fall.

The other, said Brewer, is for Congress to finally address the question, in statute, of whether DACA recipients should be allowed to stay. That would not only moot any question of whether they are “authorized” to be here but make it clear that they are entitled to the same rights and privileges as other legal residents who are not citizens, like licenses.

Brewer was not optimistic that might happen.

* * *

Karina Ruiz, executive director of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, which sued to overturn Brewer’s policy, had a different take.

DACA recipients in Arizona can declare victory in our fight to end the state’s malicious attack that spanned six years and two governors and was aimed at stripping us of basic civil rights,” she said in a prepared statement.

Nicholas Espiritu, attorney for the National Immigration Law Center, said Monday’s ruling also undermines a separate legal bid by Ducey to deny licenses to those in other deferred action programs. That includes domestic violence victims, those with pending visa applications and those allowed to stay for humanitarian reasons.

The state actually had been granting them licenses until the legal fight with DACA recipients. But that changed when the state decided to deny driving privileges to them, too, in a bid to say that DACA recipients were not being unfairly singled out.

Gubernatorial press aide Daniel Scarpinato said Monday’s ruling is being reviewed before making a decision whether to keep paying outside legal counsel to continue the court fight playing out in federal court in Phoenix.

On the congressional front, Congress is trying to avoid another government shutdown on Friday by passing another spending bill. Once again, a DACA deal does not appear to be in the works because of  of our racist “Dear Leader” and his “big beautiful wall.” Border wall Dreamers deal implodes:

The White House and congressional Democrats traded immigration offers futilely over the weekend, according to three sources familiar with the talks, leaving little chance of an immediate deal to protect Dreamers.

The White House on Sunday made an 11th-hour push to include billions of dollars in border wall funding in a massive congressional spending bill due this week, but it clashed with congressional Democrats over how far to go in protecting young immigrants who face deportation, the sources said.

White House officials asked Democrats to approve $25 billion for President Donald Trump’s border wall in exchange for extending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program through fall of 2020, those sources said. That would give Trump his full wall funding request in the must-pass spending bill and still give him leverage over the DACA program heading into his 2020 reelection campaign.

A win-win for Trump.

But Democrats balked, demanding that the White House provide a pathway to citizenship to 1.8 million young immigrants eligible under the DACA program, those sources said. The White House might have been open to negotiating further, but Democrats were only willing to entertain the massive wall funding figure in exchange for helping the same number of immigrants that Trump embraced in a proposal earlier this year.

The impasse shows how far apart the two sides are ahead of a Friday deadline to fund the government: This could be Trump’s best chance to get wall money, particularly if Democrats win back the House this fall. So the White House is willing to drop its insistence that any immigration deal include major cuts to legal immigration. In the administration‘s view, Democrats are being unreasonable in the face of Trump’s flexibility.

Democrats rejected that characterization.

“The White House proposal gave them everything they asked for while leaving Dreamers in limbo,“ said a senior Democratic aide. “Our counteroffer lined up perfectly with what the president had proposed, but of course, he said no to his own deal. Again.”

There is little incentive for Democrats to give in to Trump’s full border funding request without permanent protections for Dreamers. Their counteroffer was similar to a bipartisan bill that Republicans rejected last month under heavy pressure from Trump and White House officials.

And now there is little chance that the outstanding DACA issue will be resolved this week as part of a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. Trump’s plan to rescind DACA protections is still tied up in the courts, and with no deadline facing Congress, action this year appears less likely by the day.

The do-nothing Tea-Publican Congress is punting on doing its damn job, once again. “Vote them out.”


  1. Only old white male, property owners, and members of the NRA, who own pick up trucks, should be able to get driver licenses.

  2. “The justices gave no reason for their ruling.”

    Oh!!!! Oh!!!! Call on me!!!!! I know!!!!!

    Because it’s a stupid thing to do and brazenly bigoted!

    Suck it, racists! America is a nation of immigrants, and while we may take awhile to get there, America always wins.

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