Texas is leading a 14-state coalition petitioning the federal government to allow Arizona to deny undocumented immigrants the right to acquire a driver’s license. The group of states includes Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Mississippi.
During the Obama Administration, the White House enacted an executive action called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that protects undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors from deportation. DACA allows eligible immigrants to file for renewable two-year periods of deferred action and makes them eligible to file for legal work permits and driver’s licenses.
Citing these DACA provisions, the 9th Circuit ruled to require Arizona to allow undocumented immigrants to acquire driver’s licenses using federal work permits. Texas, however, believes this decision removes authority and sovereignty from individual states over their own ability to grant state-issued official documents.
This is hardly the first time Republican-controlled states have attempted to implement hard-hitting immigration policies. In 2010, Arizona passed Arizona SB 1070, or the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, which allowed police to check the citizenship status of anyone arrested based on “reasonable suspicion.” Most recently, Texas passed SB 4, which requires local law enforcement officials and agencies to comply with federal immigration efforts or face fines of up to $25,000 a day for every violation.
in a press release, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton expressed concern that the 9th Circuit ruling condones “a world where the president really can pre-empt state laws with the stroke of a pen.”
He hopes the Supreme Court will “review the case and conclude that states have the right to decide who gets a driver’s license.”
Paxton, in the same release, also asserted that former President Obama overstepped his executive authority by bypassing Congress to “enact an immigration program he did not have the authority to create.”
The petition has not escaped the attention of immigrant advocacy groups, who were quick to respond.
James Garcia, Communications Director for the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said the appeal takes the “wrong approach,” and notes a Supreme Court decision in favor of the 14 states could render young immigrants—whom he believes are integral to the U.S. economy—unproductive.
“These young people are an asset to the U.S. economy,” Garcia states, adding that “We need to keep these young people who have already been educated in the U.S. in the system because they are the future workforce of America.”
Texas has long established itself as a staunch critic of pro-immigration policies, having previously led a 26-state petition in the Supreme Court to dissolve DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans), a similar immigration policy of the Obama administration designed as a companion action for DACA. The program has since been suspended pending the lawsuit’s resolution.
If you want to learn more about your rights while under DACA status, don’t hesitate to talk to the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Contact our offices today to sit down for a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.