Arizona Broadens Driver's License Ban on Undocumented Immigrants

Thursday, 26 Sep 2013 11:39 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Arizona is expanding its driver's license ban to nearly all undocumented immigrants whose deportations have been deferred under a White House policy — but at least eight states are heading in the opposite direction.

In 2012, Arizona's Republican Gov. Jan Brewer banned driver's licenses for immigrants given work permits under President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But the state is getting tougher: Arizona now won't issue driver's licenses to immigrants with work permits in any deferred category.

And though a number of states followed Arizona's lead several years ago with its strict "show me your papers" law, only Nebraska has joined Arizona in its more extensive ban, The Christian Science Monitor reported.

Michigan rescinded its decision to not issue licenses as criticism mounted, and North Carolina abandoned a plan to mark the licenses with pink stripes, though a "no lawful status" designation remains, the Monitor reported.

In contrast, states moving away from strictures tightened in Arizona include California — home to the largest number of immigrants in the United States — Illinois, Colorado, Connecticut, Oregon, Maryland, Nevada, and Vermont, the Monitor reported.

A National Immigration Law Center review in June concluded some 45 states issue licenses to people under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, the Monitor stated.

Arizona's latest effort to keep unauthorized immigrants from obtaining licenses surfaced in federal court documents as part of a lawsuit against Brewer. The lawsuit alleges that her position on the driver's license issue is discriminatory.

Brewer argues the state, not the federal government, has the authority to determine who gets a driver's license.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona called Brewer's policy change "vindictive," The Los Angeles Times reported.

"This is a vindictive policy change that is motivated by politics and Brewer's desire to get out from under a lawsuit," said Alessandra Soler, executive director Arizona's ACLU, one of the plaintiffs, the Times reported.

The change could end up hurting abused women and children, said Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, according to the Times.

Before this year, immigrants could obtain driver's licenses or special driving certificates only in New Mexico, Washington, and Utah regardless of legal status, Ann Morse, a spokeswoman for the National Conference of State Legislatures, told the Monitor.

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