9OYS Immigration Watch
Is Arizona headed for another legal showdown?
Immigration attorneys say "Dreamers" shouldn't be denied driver's licenses
Reporter: Valerie Cavazos
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Is Arizona headed for another legal showdown? Immigration advocates are upset that the new "Dreamers" are being denied driver's licenses.
Thousands of undocument immigrants are allowed to receive temporary residency under President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But the state says they don't have the right to receive public benefits.
Carlos Martinez Baldenegro -- a new Dreamer -- is allowed to live and work temporarily in Tucson and he has the Employment Authorization Document that grants him that right. But if he tries to fill out the form to get a driver's licence to drive to a job, he won't get far because the form states the federal document is not acceptable.
Martinez said, "It's not going to stop me. If this states doesn't want me to work here. There are other states that will allow me to reach my goals, you know."
So why can't he get a driver's license here in Arizona? KGUN9 reporter Valerie Cavazos called the Governor office to find out. The Governor's spokesman, Matthew Benson, said, "The federal government itself has said the individuals do not have legal status. They don't have authorized presence. They are not entitled to any specific benefits."
He's right that dreamers don't have lawful status. It clearly says so on the Department of Homeland Security's website. It states, "Deferred action does not provide an individual with lawful status."
However, some immigration attorneys, like John Messing of Messing Law Offices, told KGUN9 that the dreamers do have authorized stay. "Legally from everything I've heard people who are in a period of stay authorized by the federal government, such as the deferred action, should be entitled to driver's licenses just by plugging AZ law into the federal scheme which it's designed to do."
And now it looks like immigration advocates and the state are getting ready for another legal showdown.
Messing: "I think from everything I'm hearing we can expect a major lawsuit over this because it's important for them to drive."
Benson: "The governor is very confident that the state laws are clear. If that's the path they want to go, so be it."