By Linda Kor
Young immigrants protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy will now have the opportunity to obtain a driver’s license or state identification in Arizona despite opposition from the governor’s office.
This week the state began issuing driver’s licenses to young undocumented immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” under the age of 31 who entered the U.S. before the age of 16 and who have lived here at least five consecutive years. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) those individuals will qualify for a driver’s license if they have not been convicted of a felony, a “significant” misdemeanor or three other misdemeanors, and are either currently in school, graduated from high school, earned a GED or served in the military.
The governor’s office has tried unsuccessfully to ban the policy in the state, and doesn’t consider the matter closed. In a statement issued by Gov. Jan Brewer, she remarked, “It is important to remember that courts have yet to consider the full merits of the case, and I believe that Arizona will ultimately prevail.”
The governor noted that she believes that the right to determine who is issued a driver’s license is reserved for the states, not the federal government or an unelected judiciary.
“It is outrageous that Arizona is being forced to ignore longstanding state law and comply with a flawed federal court mandate that requires the state, at least temporarily, to issue driver licenses to individuals whose presence is in violation of federal law, as established by the United States Congress,” said the governor.
“At stake in this case are the fundamental issues of constitutional law and state sovereignty. Arizona has the constitutional right and authority to enforce state statute. This right must be protected. It must be defended. And as long as I am governor, I will do exactly that.”
According to ADOT, like any other new driver, the newly approved applicants must pay the fees, provide identification, pass a written exam and then take a road test. If they don’t pass either part the first time around, they will have to wait a week to try again.