The Obama administration has asked a federal court to reject Arizona Gov. Jan Brewers appeal of a ruling that prohibits the state from denying drivers licenses to young undocumented immigrants granted work permits under a federal program.
In an amicus brief filed Tuesday, attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice told the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the state policy denying drivers license to immigrants who received work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is preempted by federal law.
The attorneys also noted that the state wont allow DACA recipients to get drivers licenses using their work permits, but it does allow other immigrants with work permits to get drivers licenses.
There is no dispute that the State has granted tens of thousands of drivers licenses to aliens based on their provision of federal employment authorization documents, attorneys with the Justice Department said in the brief. The State has failed to identify any reason why the same documents should not similarly suffice for plaintiffs.
The amicus brief comes after a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the governors policy in July and sided with the group of young undocumented immigrants who filed the lawsuit challenging the policy. The panel suggested that the state was treating DACA recipients disparately from other immigrants who were allowed to use their work permits to apply for drivers licenses.
The governors office disagreed with the panels opinion and asked a 15-judge panel to reconsider it. But the Obama administration is saying in its brief filed Tuesday that the panels opinion does not merit rehearing en banc.
In a statement to the Associated Press, Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder reacted to the amicus brief filed by the Obama administration.
Rather than secure U.S. borders or enforce existing federal immigration laws, the Obama administration continues to afford preference and privileges to people who enter our country illegally and whose presence is unauthorized, Wilder said. States, not the Obama administration, have the right to determine who is issued a drivers license.
Meanwhile, undocumented youth celebrated the filing of the amicus brief and called for Brewers policy to be overturned immediately.
The governments opinion only solidifies our legal foundation, said Carla Chavarria, a DACA recipient. I am certain that we will win this battle. But in the mean time, entrepreneurs like myself who are taxpayers and job creators cant grow our business due to the lack of drivers license.