Supreme Court Rejects Arizona’s Immigrant Driving License Stance

The US Supreme Court has rejected the attempt by the state of Arizona to prevent undocumented immigrants who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, started by President Barack Obama in 2012, from being able to get driver’s licenses.

The justices chose to avoid a fight over the DACA policy for the second time in as many weeks. The court had refused before to hear the appeal by the Trump administration over the injunction preventing them from ending the program, which currently protects around 700,000 young undocumented immigrants, who came to the US as minors, from the threat of deportation. The new case goes back to the creation of the program, when Jan Brewer, then the Governor of Arizona, attempted to block deferred action beneficiaries from being able to get a driver’s license in the state.

Brewer argued that the state was merely enforcing a longstanding policy that saw licenses issued only to legal immigrants. But, the policy was challenged by a group of deferred action recipients, and a federal appeals court agreed with them, ruling that states could not distinguish between different kinds of non-citizens under federal immigration law.

Nebraska rescinded a similar policy in 2015; meaning that Arizona would have been the lone state preventing deferred action recipients from being allowed to have a driver’s license. The Supreme Court had been advised not to take the appeal by the Trump administration, stating that the questions raised by the case had been overtaken by recent events.