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Dreamers Challenge Driver’s License Denial Amid Legal Challenge

Nick Ut/AP

Attorneys for dreamers are asking a federal appeals court to make good on its ruling that their clients are entitled to driver’s licenses while they challenge Jan Brewer’s interpretation of state law. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

Last month the appellate judges said there was enough evidence to suggest the governor acted illegally in denying licenses to those in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. So, they directed a trial judge to order the Department of Transportation to start issuing the licenses while the case makes its way through the legal system. But the trial judge refused, noting Brewer has appealed that decision.

Jorge Castillo of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said that could take months. And that’s on top of the nearly two years since the president announced the policy. He said all these delays means the dreamers — there are 20,000 who have been accepted into the program in Arizona — are being denied the licenses to go to school and to the jobs that the DACA program has authorized them to have.

“Under any standard of harm, our clients meet it because of the fact they’re suffering this, essentially being discriminated against, by the state, on a daily basis. And the fruits of that are felt every day,” Castillo said.

Brewer argues a 1996 Arizona law allows licenses to be issued only to those “authorized” to be in the country. She contends the decision by the president and the Department of Homeland Security not to deport dreamers — and even allow them to work — does not “authorize” them to be here.

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