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Border & Immigration

Dems, Immigrants Call On AZ Governor To Undo License Ban

Elisa Vega (in yellow) was granted a work permit but is ineligible for an Arizona driver's license.
Jude Joffe-Block
Elisa Vega (in yellow) was granted a work permit but is ineligible for an Arizona driver's license.
Dems Call on Ariz. Governor To Reverse on Licenses
Young immigrants, Democratic lawmakers and advocates called on Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to reverse an Executive Order banning young immigrants who qualify for a federal program from receiving driver's licenses.
Democratic lawmakers, young immigrants and advocates gathered at the state capitol on Tuesday.
Democratic lawmakers, young immigrants and advocates gathered at the state capitol on Tuesday.

Democratic lawmakers, young immigrants and immigrant rights advocates called on Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to reverse an Executive Order banning young immigrants who qualify for a federal program from receiving driver's licenses.

The Tuesday press conference at the state capitol came on the heels of new federal guidance on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program.

More than 14,000 young immigrants in Arizona who were brought to this country illegally as children have applied to the new Obama administration program that grants work permits and a reprieve from deportation for two years.

But they are banned from getting Arizona driver's licenses, due to an Executive Order signed by Governor Jan Brewer.

Brewer had said these immigrants are not legally authorized to be in the country, and therefore not eligible for state benefits, including licenses.

But on Friday, the federal government issued new guidelines that said immigrants who qualify for DACA are "lawfully present" by Department of Homeland Security standards.

"It should take care of her legal concerns," said Steve Gallardo, a Democratic state senator. "And I would hope that the Governor would reconsider her position and allow these young people to have driver's licenses."

He was joined by the past board chair of the National Council de la Raza, Daniel Ortega, and other Democratic lawmakers, including state Senator Anna Tovar, and state representatives Martín Quezada, Andrea Dalessandro and Lynn Pancrazi.

Tovar said she would introduce a new bill on Tuesday to give these young immigrants the right to get a driver's license. It will be the second of its kind.

A spokesman for Brewer said she and her legal team are reviewing the latest guidance.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story misidentified Daniel Ortega. He is the immediate past chair of the Board of Directors of the National Council de la Raza.

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