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Driver’s Licenses for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Beneficiaries

According to The Huffington Post, the State of Arizona and the US Federal Government are once again tussling over domain with regard to benefits based on immigration status. This round it’s driver’s licenses and DACA beneficiaries.

The Obama Administration, in a friend-of-the-court brief,

“urged a court to reject Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s appeal of a ruling that blocks the state from denying driver’s licenses to young immigrants who have avoided deportation under a change ordered by the president.”

According to the filing, these immigrants, who have avoided deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, are the only immigrants whose documents are not accepted by the Arizona state government for the purpose of obtaining a driver’s license.

Governor Brewer is asking the 9th Circuit Court to review the ruling.  The US Justice Department is arguing that no review is warranted.

“The [Arizona] state driver’s license policy was a reaction to steps the Obama administration took in June 2012 to shield thousands of immigrants from deportation and expand their legal rights. About 580,000 people have been approved to take part in the program, including about 20,000 in Arizona.

Brewer issued an executive order in August 2012 directing state agencies to deny driver’s licenses and other public benefits to young immigrants who get work authorization under the program.”

As the rules governing eligibility for driver’s licenses are determined at the state level, DACA does not automatically provide its recipients access to a state driver’s license.  Nonetheless, DACA recipients who obtain work authorization and Social Security numbers are eligible to obtain a license in almost every state.

Only Arizona and Nebraska adopted policies excluding DACA recipients from driver’s license eligibility. These policies in Nebraska are also under challenge in court.

©1994-2020 Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume IV, Number 286


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We’ve earned our national and international reputation for excellence and innovation, and our Immigration Practice attorneys serve as trusted business advisors for top-tier companies with offices throughout the world.

Mintz Levin has a successful track record working with—and lobbying—government entities involved in immigration and naturalization matters, including the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the State Department (including consular offices abroad), and the Department of Labor.