An August, 2012 executive order issued by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer denying public benefits like driver’s licenses to young immigrants who have work permits has been struck down by an appeals court.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the young immigrants against the state, saying that the immigrants were harmed by unequal treatment under the executive order, and that the order was a violation of their equal-protection rights. The ruling came despite Governor Jan Brewer’s attorneys claiming that the policy grew out of concerns in regards to giving certain public benefits, like driver’s licenses, to people who aren’t authorized to be in the country, despite the individuals possessing a work permit.
In June of 2012, the Obama Administration shielded thousands of immigrants from deportation by allowing them to apply for a work permit under federal programs. If they met certain requirements, the immigrants were given the two-year renewable work permit and allowed to stay. Shortly after Obama took those steps, Governor Brewer authorized an executive order that blocked all public services to young immigrants who had obtained work authorization under the program.
The executive order was challenged on the grounds of being unconstitutional, and that it was trumped by federal law. In May of 2013, US District Judge David Campbell rejected those arguments. The following summer, the state revised the policy and said that it would stop issuing driver’s licenses to all people that received deportation referrals from the feds, not just young immigrants given protection under Obama’s policy. The governor’s attorneys argued the revision defeated any attempts to argue against the policy from an equal-protection position.
Instead, the immigrant’s lawyers were able to contest the order and eventually get it overturned by arguing just that:
But the immigrants’ lawyers said the revision was a clear attempt to undermine their equal-protection claim and that, despite the state’s claims, the state is still giving licenses to some people with deferred deportation status, such as certain immigrants who are domestic violence victims.
The governor’s attorneys said the driver’s license policy grew out of concerns over the liability of giving licenses to people who aren’t authorized to be in the country and reducing the risk of licenses being used to improperly access public benefits.
The lawsuit alleges the state has in effect classified young-adult immigrants as not having permission to be in the country and that Brewer’s policy is unconstitutional because it’s trumped by federal law.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ended up siding with the immigrants and against Governor Jan Brewer.
You can watch a Huffington Post Live report below:
More from AATTP on Immigration
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