Dreamers Licenses

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The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that young illegal immigrants given deferred deportations can have drivers licenses in Arizona. Governor Jan Brewer had issued an executive order, denying the “Dreamers” licenses. The court said that the young illegal immigrants were harmed by unequal treatment by the state. Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic discussed the ruling.

Ted Simons: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that young illegal immigrants given deferred deportation status can have drivers licenses in Arizona. Governor Jan Brewer had issued an executive order denying those licenses. But the court ruled that the young undocumented immigrants were harmed by what the court said was Arizona's unequal treatment of those granted federal work permits. Supporters of the courts decision reacted at a press conference this afternoon.

The court was very strong in stating that the harm that has been caused to these folks is irreparable. Is continuing, as we all know, this is not a state where you can do without a car, where you can take care of your family without a car as we again all know. This will lead to that finally reversing that vindictive illegal, ugly decision by the state of Arizona.

Today is a day of triumph for all of us here. It's a day of triumph for Arizona DREAMers all across the state. It's the day that we can finally exhale in relief from an inhale that was taken two years ago when governor brewer banned driver's license to all deferred action recipients. She banned us from the ability to drive, she banned us from the ability to be able to further expand our careers and she banned us from having our identities. To me it was a very personal attack because to many people, a driver's license is something that they take for granted but as we have learned for us, it's a lot more than that. A driver's license would allow us to get from one place to another, to finally be able to get to those jobs that deferred action was able to grant us. It would be a way for us to visit our family members, to finally take a road trip without fear and it would be a way to represent ourselves and our identities. So to me when governor brewer made that announcement on August of 15 of 2012, it was very personal. It hurt me very deeply.

Ted Simons: The governor's office reacted to the court's ruling by calling president Obama's deferred deportation program lawless and said that the ruling is especially disturbing because of the recent influx of young illegal immigrants. The governor said the state will continue to fight for the rule of law. Here now to discuss today's ruling is Laurie Roberts of "The Arizona Republic." You've been following this story a whole bunch of stories but this one, as well. Thank you for being here. Your initial thoughts on a night that wasn't much of a surprise.

Laurie Roberts: Not a surprise at all. You could sort of tell during the arguments that were done a few months ago the tone of the arguments of the three-judge panel that this was the way they were headed. It's very difficult to say that we're going to treat one group of deferred action immigrants one way and another group another and that's essentially what the court found was that it violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Ted Simons: Talk about that differentiation there because some people are a little bit confused why these folks were treated differently than other folks with the federal work permits.

Laurie Roberts: I think they were treated differently because the governor was in a snit about the fact that President Obama created this deferred action for childhood arrival program. She calls it lawless and says that Congress is the only group that can enact laws to defer deportation status of groups but there are a variety of classifications of immigrants who are here, who have this deferred status. Some of them are victims of crimes in other countries, some of them may be fleeing domestic violence situations and those people have routinely been able to get driver's licenses in Arizona and so the courts is saying why is this group different from that group? The governor would say this group is different from that group because this group got that deferred status as a result of laws passed by Congress whereas the kids got the deferred status because of a lawless directive of President Obama.

Ted Simons: And that -- didn't the state do something last year to expand the ban on the driver's licenses?

Laurie Roberts: They did. After she enacted the ban, people came forward and pointed out well there are other groups who have these employment authorization documents who were able to get the licenses so her response was not to say I guess it's okay, her response was to say well no longer should those people get them, either. But that really didn't wash with the courts. They found that it was a case of basically spite. I believe the word they used was animus.

Ted Simons: I was going to ask you about that. It's interesting to see the court say, first of all, the unequal treatment, they emphasized that but that the governor's actions showed animus to these kids.

Laurie Roberts: It's strong language.

Ted Simons: It seems like it is.

Laurie Roberts: The governor will point out that all three of the judges on this panel were appointed by democratic presidents but it is interesting that one of the three has the distinction of having been appointed both by Barack Obama to this court and Alaska governor Sarah Palin for the Alaska Supreme Court.

Ted Simons: Interesting. Aclu also called it vindictive policy by the governor and the governor's response was that this was outrageous and these sorts of things. Why is she taking such a hard stance on this?

Laurie Roberts: I think she fashions herself the governor who's going to tell this president what to do and it plays to the base and it's an election year. You add up the central American children who are here and now this and a couple of other things going on, and immigration, immigration is firing up the base again. I'm hearing from all the people I heard from in 2010 and the rhetoric is revving up and I guess it's good for Republican politics.

Ted Simons: I was going to ask you about that because her response, a lot of it was political in nature, mentioning that the three judges were appointed by democratic presidents, mentioning the Obama policy as being lawless and all these sorts of things. There was a lot of name dropping and name calling in there which seemed a little again pretty harsh for a governor statement.

Laurie Roberts: I would think it's harsh for this governor. She's been harsh all along on President Obama's treatment of illegal immigrants and the perceived lack of border enforcement. I think it's right in line. And the interesting thing is what nobody's talking about is let's just take care of this problem. Most people in this country would say that this particular group of immigrants who are here illegally, the childhood arrivals, are the most sympathetic group of all and that ultimately we are going to have to incorporate them into this the only country that they've ever known. Why don't we just get on with it and fix the problem?

Ted Simons: Do most people in Arizona feel that way?

Laurie Roberts: I have seen polls that stated we do. We are only one of two states that I know of that deny driver's licenses to this group. At least 45 do. Only our state and the state of Nebraska do not and now, of course, as of today, we grant them, as well.

Ted Simons: How far is the state going to go on this? Fighting this tooth and nail?

Laurie Roberts: They have to. They've put the money and the time into it at this point. Remember this is just a preliminary injunction. You've got to go back and fight the merits of the case at the federal court level, at the district court level so this will be going on for a while. It would be far easier if we just took care of the problem and solved it.

Ted Simons: Some of these, it's supposed to be a two-year deferment here. Some of those kids are going to be past the deferment.

Laurie Roberts: It's renewable.

Ted Simons: Okay.

Laurie Roberts: Those things are renewable. It was started in August of 2012, the first group of renewals are coming up now. We have 20,000 young Arizonans that this applies to.

Ted Simons: So basically, we watched what happens as far as the state is concerned going after this particular ruling. And it will never end will it?

Laurie Roberts: No, it won't because it's good politics.

Ted Simons: All right, it's always a pleasure.

Laurie Roberts:Journalist, Arizona Republic;

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