Civil rights groups sue governor over license policy - New York News

Civil rights groups sue governor over license policy

Updated:
PHOENIX -

Immigrant rights activists have filed a lawsuit, hoping to overturn a decree by Governor Jan Brewer that blocks young, undocumented immigrants from getting drivers licenses, as part of the federal government's deferred action program.

In June the Obama administration issued the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It gives kids, who were brought here illegally, an opportunity to live and work in the United States for two years. They avoid deportation by getting work permits.

But not all the states are on board. Nebraska, Michigan and Arizona are denying them licenses.

"Clearly Arizona and Governor Brewer are thumbing her nose at the federal government. She's doing it deliberately," says Alessandra Soler, ACLU.

Thursday, a coalition of civil rights organizations filed a lawsuit challenging Governor Brewer's order.

"They want to pursue their dreams and contribute back to state of Arizona, but governor has put a road block in path of their dreams," says Shiu Ming Cheer, attorney for the National Immigration Law Center.

ACLU immigration attorneys claim these young people need transportation to get to their jobs and classes. Many of the Dream Act kids are in school.

"She's denying them the opportunity to contribute their communities and the only country they've ever called home," says Jennifer Chang Knewell, attorney for ACLU.

How does Governor Brewer suggest they get from here to there?

"I would not have any idea. We hope that if they are going to do that and if they are here wanting to look for a job, I guess they need to figure that out on their own," says Gov. Brewer.

She says she is not surprised by the lawsuit.

"The bottom line is, having a driver's license is a privilege it is not a constitutional right."

ACLU attorneys say the governor's order is unconstitutional.

Statement by Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson:

Governor Brewer has a duty and obligation to defend State law, which limits the disbursement of public benefits and Arizona driver's licenses to individuals who are lawfully present in the United States. Beneficiaries under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are not.

Unlike all previous classes granted deferred action, the DACA program is neither congressionally authorized nor enshrined in federal law. The legal limbo now faced by DACA recipients is not due to any action by the State of Arizona or Arizona voters. Rather, it is due to President Obama's decision to pursue this program via executive action rather than through the proper legislative process.

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