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Arizona governor sued over order denying driver’s licenses to young immigrants

This news story was published on November 30, 2012.
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By Cindy Carcamo, Los Angeles Times –

Several civil- and immigrant-rights organizations sued Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Thursday, challenging an executive order that denies driver’s licenses to some young people who recently received immigration relief and work permits under a new Obama administration program.

“This lawsuit is important because it’s basically about the rights of young people to go about their daily lives and ability to be able to support their families,” said Shiu-Ming Cheer, co-author of the lawsuit and immigration attorney with the National Immigration Law Center.

Brewer’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit argues that the Republican governor’s state policy is unconstitutional, and challenges it on two legal fronts.

First, the suit argues that only the federal government has the authority to determine who is in the country illegally.

Second, the complaint alleges that the state mandate violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution because it specifically denies driver’s licenses to this particular group of work permit recipients, while others with work permits are eligible for the benefit.

Brewer issued the executive order in August in response to Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects some young people who are in the country illegally from deportation. It also authorizes them to live and work in the United States for two years.

In other states, deferred deportation has allowed thousands of young people to apply for driver’s licenses.

Brewer’s order states that Obama’s executive order does not grant the youths “any lawful or authorized status and does not entitle them to any additional public benefit.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and National Immigration Law Center filed the lawsuit.

About 1.76 million people are eligible for Obama’s deferred action program, 80,000 of whom live in Arizona, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington research group.

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