By Robert Barnes
The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to review a lower court decision that tells Arizona officials they must issue driver’s licenses to immigrants who were brought to this country illegally as children.
Arizona is one of two states that refuse to issue licenses to those protected by the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program announced in 2012, often referred to as “dreamers.” Nebraska is the other.
Outgoing Arizona governor Jan Brewer (R) issued an executive order after Obama’s action telling state agencies that DACA recipients are not eligible for any state or public benefit, including a driver’s license. But a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled unanimously that the order was probably unconstitutional.
While the legal battle over Brewer’s directive is being waged, that court said the state must issue licenses, as it had done in the past with other immigrants who are allowed to work in this country.
The Supreme Court refused Arizona’s request to stay the appeals court’s decision without comment. Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. noted that they would have granted the motion.
The case, Brewer v. Arizona Dream Act Coalition, does not directly affect Obama’s recent executive action that would shield from deportation up to 4 million illegal immigrants.
Robert Barnes has been a Washington Post reporter and editor since 1987. He has covered the Supreme Court since November 2006.