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CA9 on DACA, Arizona, Driver Licenses: Arizona Dream Act Coalition v. Brewer

July 07, 2014 (1 min read)

"The federal government has enacted a program called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (“DACA”), which authorizes certain immigrants who came to the United States as children, without permission, to remain in the United States. In response, Arizona officials — Defendants here — implemented a policy that prevents DACA recipients from obtaining Arizona driver’s licenses.

Plaintiffs — five individual DACA recipients living in Arizona, plus an organization promoting the interests of young immigrants — sought a preliminary injunction prohibiting Defendants from enforcing their policy, arguing that the policy violates the Equal Protection Clause and is preempted. The district court found that Defendants’ policy deprives Plaintiffs of driver’s licenses for no rational reason, and thus violates the Equal Protection Clause. The district
court nonetheless denied the preliminary injunction, because it found Plaintiffs were not likely to suffer irreparable harm from this constitutional violation.

We agree that Plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their equal protection claim. And contrary to the district court’s conclusion, we hold that Plaintiffs are likely to suffer irreparable harm unless Defendants’ policy is enjoined. The remaining injunction factors — the public interest and the balance of the equities — also tip in Plaintiffs’ favor. We therefore reverse the district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction. We
remand for entry of a preliminary injunction prohibiting Defendants from enforcing its policy by which the Arizona Department of Transportation refuses to accept Plaintiffs’ Employment Authorization Documents, issued to Plaintiffs under DACA, for purposes of obtaining an Arizona driver’s license." - Arizona Dream Act Coalition v. Brewer, July 7, 2014.  [Hats way off to MALDEF, the ACLU and NILC!]