An appeal court has come down firmly on the side of advocates for immigrants, who argued that the Arizona policy of refusing to allow young immigrants to have driver’s licenses despite having work permits was a violation of their equal protection rights.
The young immigrants were indeed being harmed by the state’s unequal treatment, according to the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which blocked the Arizona policy yesterday. In June 2012 the Obama administration took steps to stop thousands of young undocumented immigrants being deported. Applicants who came to the United States before the age of 16, were under 30 and had either served in the military, graduated from a GED program or high school or were still in school could apply for the program, which included the chance to put in an application for a two-year renewable work permit.
The executive order issued by Governor Jan Brewer in August 2012 directed state agencies to refuse public benefits and driver’s licenses to young immigrants who received work authorization through the program. In May last year the arguments of immigrant rights advocates were rejected by US District Judge David Campbell.
The lawsuit alleged that Arizona had effectively classified these young adult immigrants as not being allowed to be in the United States and that Brewer’s policy was trumped by federal law and thus unconstitutional. The appeals court agreed with this argument.