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High Court Action Supports Young Immigrants in AZ Getting Drivers' Licenses

PHOTO: The U.S. Supreme Court is taking action to uphold a lower court ruling that overturned Arizona's law preventing some young immigrants from getting drivers' licenses. Photo courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol.
PHOTO: The U.S. Supreme Court is taking action to uphold a lower court ruling that overturned Arizona's law preventing some young immigrants from getting drivers' licenses. Photo courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol.
December 18, 2014

PHOENIX - The U.S. Supreme Court is supporting a lower court ruling allowing young immigrants in Arizona to get driver's licenses.

The high court refused to stay a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which overturned Arizona's denial of licenses to immigrants who have status under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).

Carla Chavarri has DACA status and is also part of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition which originally sued Gov. Jan Brewer over the driver's license issue.

"It's kind of childish," says Chavarri. "We've gone to the courts and they've proved that her whole argument does not stand up to the court, and I still don't know why she keeps fighting it."

President Obama created the DACA program by executive order in 2012, allowing some undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, to get a driver's license and become eligible for employment if they meet certain requirements. Gov. Brewer then signed a state executive order stopping DACA participants from getting Arizona driver's licenses.

Chavarria, a college student who has her own marketing business, says having a driver's license will help her get around Phoenix much faster. She says it also helps about 20,000 young people in Arizona with DACA status feel more like they belong in the United States.

"It doesn't make me feel like a second-class citizen," Chavarria says. "But once we're able to obtain driver's licenses, I'm able to feel part of this state."

Chavarria says DACA, which is renewed every two years, has given her a Social Security number, allowing her to work and attend college.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - AZ