Obama administration challenges Arizona’s driver’s license ban

The Obama administration has asked a federal court to reject Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s appeal of a ruling that prohibits the state from denying driver’s…
Obama administration challenges Arizona’s driver’s license ban

Alan Salinas (left) and Jhannyn Rivera (right) stand in front of the U.S. District Court in Phoenix on March 23, 2013, after a judge heard arguments in a lawsuit challenging Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s policy denying driver’s licenses to undocumented youth who are benefiting from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (VOXXI/Griselda Nevarez)

The Obama administration has asked a federal court to reject Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s appeal of a ruling that prohibits the state from denying driver’s 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 driver’s 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 won’t allow DACA recipients to get driver’s licenses using their work permits, but it does allow other immigrants with work permits to get driver’s licenses.

“There is no dispute that the State has granted tens of thousands of driver’s 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.”

SEE ALSO: DACA recipients challenge Arizona driver’s license ban in court

The amicus brief comes after a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the governor’s 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 driver’s licenses.

The governor’s office disagreed with the panel’s opinion and asked a 15-judge panel to reconsider it. But the Obama administration is saying in its brief filed Tuesday that the panel’s 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 driver’s license.”

Meanwhile, undocumented youth celebrated the filing of the amicus brief and called for Brewer’s policy “to be overturned immediately.”

“The government’s 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 can’t grow our business due to the lack of driver’s license.”

SEE ALSO: Court says Arizona cannot deny driver’s licenses to DACA recipients