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Immigration Law

Arizona's 'Dreamer' License Ban Affects U.S. Citizens

"John Roberts, a retired postal worker from Topeka, tried to use his Kansas driver’s license to apply for an Arizona driver’s license after relocating to Waddell, a community west of Phoenix.  “I was told, ‘We don’t accept driver’s licenses from other states,’ ” Roberts said.  “I said, ‘What?’ ”  Roberts is one of thousands of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants who have been affected by the unforeseen consequences of a 2012 executive order by Gov. Jan Brewer aimed at keeping young undocumented immigrants from getting licenses.  Brewer issued the order in 2012 in response to President Barack Obama’s deferred-action program.  It allows young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children — those known as “dreamers” — to obtain work permits and remain in the country for up to two years without fear of deportation.  The order has kept thousands of undocumented immigrants who have been granted deferred action from getting licenses, but it has also frustrated U.S. citizens from out of state such as Roberts, who was forced to return the next day with his passport.  Even then, he was delayed further because Motor Vehicle Division employees and a supervisor couldn’t decide whether they could accept his passport because it expired 40 years ago.  He said he didn’t know what he was going to do if they didn’t accept the expired passport.  Finally, they decided the old document was good enough.  “So, they took an expired passport, 40 years old, but they wouldn’t accept a valid driver’s license,” Roberts said. “That makes no sense.”" - Arizona Republic, Feb. 24, 2014.