Court orders Arizona to let Dreamers get driver’s licenses

A federal appeals court on Monday rejected a request from Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to reconsider a previous ruling blocking her denial of driver’s licenses…

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Court orders Arizona to let Dreamers get driver’s licenses

Dreamers in Arizona benefiting from the DACA program may soon be able to get driver’s licenses thanks to a decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. (VOXXI/Griselda Nevarez)

A federal appeals court on Monday rejected a request from Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to reconsider a previous ruling blocking her denial of driver’s licenses to Dreamers protected from deportation under a federal program.

The decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals essentially paves the way for Dreamers in Arizona who’ve been approved for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to be able to apply for driver’s licenses in the state.

SEE ALSO: Obama administration challenges Arizona’s driver’s license ban

Carla Chavarria, a 21-year-old Dreamer, saw the federal appeals court’s decision as a victory. She is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed two years ago that challenges the driver’s licenses ban.

“For many of us, what was announced today has brought a lot of joy,” she said Monday at a press conference in Phoenix. “It has given us an opportunity and a lot of hope to just have a normal life.”

Carla Chavarria

Carla Chavarria, a 21-year-old Dreamer, may soon be able to get a driver’s license thanks to a court order issued Monday. (VOXXI/Griselda Nevarez)

At her young age, Chavarria has paid her way through college. She has also started her own small business through which she’s been able to create jobs. But living in Arizona without a driver’s license, she said, has made running her marketing business very difficult.

“If owning my own business has taught me anything is that time is money, and the bus schedule is not the most time effective,” she said.

Chavarria added that there are many more Dreamers, like her, who’ve been approved for DACA but can’t drive. They’ve had to find other ways to get to work and school. Korina Iribe, a 25-year-old Dreamer, is one of them.

“For me personally, not being able to obtain my driver’s license was more than just not being able to have that identification, that piece of plastic,” Iribe said during Monday’s press conference. “It was Gov. Brewer telling me that I couldn’t have an identity as an Arizonan.”

Chavarria and Iribe are among the more than 23,200 undocumented young immigrants living in Arizona who’ve been granted protection from deportation and work permits under the DACA program. To qualify for the program, undocumented youth must meet certain requirements, including entering the U.S. before turning 16 and passing criminal background check.

SEE ALSO: Dreamers march for driver’s licenses, end to deportations

The federal government began accepting applications for the DACA program on August 15, 2012. That’s the same day Brewer issued an executive order denying licenses to DACA recipients.

Three months later, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona filed a class-action lawsuit challenging the driver’s license ban. It filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition and a group of DACA recipients.

Dreamers

Dreamers in Arizona celebrated the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on Monday. (VOXXI/Griselda Nevarez)

In July, a three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals argued that the driver’s license ban was likely to be found unconstitutional because it discriminated against DACA recipients. It ordered the state to allow DACA recipients to apply for driver’s licenses.

Brewer objected that decision and asked that an 11-judge panel rehear the case. But in its order issued Monday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals noted that not a single judge voted to rehear the case.

A spokesperson for Brewer told The Arizona Republic the governor is now considering the possibility of taking the mater to the Supreme Court.

But Dan Pochoda, legal director for ACLU of Arizona, said he predicts it’s “very unlikely” that the Supreme Court will take up the case. He also predicted that with this ruling, DACA recipients will soon be able to apply for driver’s licenses.

“It should be the end of the road on this particular request for driver’s licenses for these folks,” he said, as Dreamers attending the press conference burst into applause. “It should be the end and within a matter of weeks—if not days—licenses should start to flow.”

SEE ALSO: Driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants: Is Oregon next?