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ADOT begins issuing driver's licenses to some immigrants with 'deferred action' status

Posted at 4:13 PM, Jan 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-24 18:48:36-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — Some immigrants living in Arizona with federal authorization to work in the U.S. can now get a driver's license.

On Wednesday, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) announced the settlement of a lawsuit over the issue Wednesday that spanned years. The change was effective in late December.

The legal battle began in 2012, when the Obama administration created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which gave some legal status to children who illegally entered the U.S. with parents when they were young. Then-Arizona Governor Jan Brewer took exception to the program and issued an executive order in response that denied any DACA recipients legal status in the state, including the right to a state-issued driver's license or identification card.

That move triggered a lawsuit led by immigrants-rights advocacy groups. In June, a federal judge ruled with the plaintiffs, saying the state was required to issue driver's licenses to anyone whom the federal government has granted legal status.

As part the settlement Wednesday, ADOT agreed to change its policy to allow an employment authorization card to be used in application for a driver's license.

DACA recipients, meanwhile, have been able to receive a driver's license since 2014, an ADOT spokesperson said Thursday.