Victory for immigration advocates in Arizona

Proponents of immigration reform won a considerable victory in Arizona  July 7 when an appeals court in Arizona overruled an executive order from Gov. Jan Brewer. Brewer had ordered that driver’s licenses be denied to undocumented immigrants who have received work permits through President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Child Immigrants program. These individuals, known as “Dreamers,” often need driver’s licenses to use their work permits as many employers require them as a condition of employment.

DACA was announced in June of 2012, and took effect that August. DACA was aimed at immigrants who entered the United States as minors and were younger than 30 years of age in August 2012. It provided the individuals meeting these requirements with protection from deportation for two years as well as employee authorization documents (EADs).

The ruling, which came from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, explained that the immigrants in question were being harmed by unequal treatment by the state of Arizona. This decision also represents the end of a litigation battle that spanned more than a year. Last year, Arizona expanded its law to also ban licenses for any immigrants who had been granted deferred action from deportation. Most who benefited from that decision were allowed immunity from deportation because of negative humanitarian situations in their home countries, such as sexual abuse, domestic abuse and human trafficking.

Many supporters of reform, including Dan Pochoda, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, have suggested that the ban Brewer proposed, which came on August 15, 2012 (the exact same day DACA went into effect) was a result of her distaste for President Obama.

“This policy was motivated by a political relationship (between) Gov. Brewer and Obama, and she had no good reason and no basis in the law to do this,” Pochoda told the Associated Press.

Brewer’s proposal is no longer in effect, though she has indicated that she intends to appeal the ruling.