Judge: DREAMers Can Keep Arizona Driver's Licenses

By Jude Joffe-Block
Published: Thursday, January 22, 2015 - 8:13pm
Updated: Thursday, January 22, 2015 - 8:18pm

A federal judge has permanently struck down Arizona's policy of denying driver's licenses to certain young immigrants. It means those young immigrants who have received licenses already will get to keep them unless a higher court intervenes.

The ruling is a victory for the state's DREAMers and the Obama administration's first immigration executive action.

In 2012 the Obama administration instituted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gave young immigrants brought to this country illegally as children the right to apply for temporary work permits and a reprieve from deportation. 

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer banned DACA recipients from getting driver's licenses. In court, lawyers for the state argued these immigrants were in the country illegally and therefore the state could deny them licenses.

But on Thursday, Judge David Campbell rejected the state's argument that those accepted into the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are in this country illegally. 

Back in December, Arizona began issuing driver's licenses to DACA recipients for the first time. That was after the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals ordered the state must at least temporarily stop denying this group licenses while the case was litigated.
Campbell's Thursday order makes that ruling permanent. It means there won't be a trial, and the state must continue issuing DACA recipients driver's licenses.
Now the question is if current Gov. Doug Ducey will appeal. On Thursday evening a spokesman said the governor's office was reviewing the ruling. 
The litigation for this case has cost Arizona more than $1.5 million so far.
Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services contributed to this report.