During that campaign, Mr. Obama, seeking to bolster his standing among Hispanic voters, gave tentative legal status to the Dreamers under a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. That granted a stay of deportation, along with work permits, to more than 600,000 illegal immigrant children 30 and under that had been brought to the U.S. as children.
Most states ruled that those children were eligible for driver’s licenses, but Arizona ruled they weren’t.
Ms. Brewer said Monday that the children are still here illegally, according to both federal law and the Department of Homeland Security, so there’s no reason her state should grant them licenses on the basis of an administrative decision that, she said, conflicts with the law.
“This policy choice is not federal law authorizing an illegal alien’s presence in the country — it simply is a choice by the executive branch not to enforce deportation proceedings as required under existing federal statute,” she said.
She also said the DACA policy is responsible for the newest surge of illegal immigrants and warned that if the court’s ruling stands, “the president, as he has already threatened, can contrive a new program refusing to deport the latest arrivals [and] issue employment authorization cards, and Arizona would have to issue licenses to them as well.”
The judges said the problem was that Arizona was treating Dreamers differently than it treated other noncitizens who didn’t have full legal authorization to be in the country because they were still in the process of applying for a reprieve from deportation.
Judge Morgan Christen went further, saying in a concurring opinion that Arizona changed its laws midway through the process specifically to try to deny Dreamers licenses — a move that the judge said left it far afield from federal law.
“When it adopted its new policy regarding driver’s license eligibility, Arizona did not merely borrow a federal immigration classification; it created a new one. By doing so, Arizona ventured into an area — the creation of immigration classifications — that is the exclusive domain of the federal government,” Judge Christen wrote.