Some immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents when they were young — known as DREAMers after the DREAM Act — arrived at Arizona Departments of Motor Vehicles as early as 4 a.m. on Monday, the first day that they could legally apply for driver's licenses.
U.S. District Judge David Campbell on Thursday issued a preliminary injunction barring the state from upholding Gov. Jan Brewer's policy of denying the licenses to the young immigrants, who are protected from deportation under President Barack Obama's 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program (DACA).
The Arizona Department of Transportation said they were expecting longer lines and greater crowds at DMVs across the state in the coming weeks.
"The day I heard on the news we could get our licenses, I was jumping around and was so excited," Maria Sanchez, 28, who was the first person in line at a Motor Vehicle Division office in south Phoenix, told NBC affiliate AZCentral. Sanchez is one of about 22,000 immigrants in Arizona who were barred from legally driving. Nebraska is the only other state with the policy.
Although licenses were being issued on Monday, the legal fight for immigrants in Arizona isn't over. Brewer has already said she will ask the Supreme Court to hear an appeal to the injunction.
"It is outrageous that Arizona is being forced to ... issue driver licenses to individuals whose presence is in violation of federal law, as established by the United States Congress," Brewer said in a statement. "It is important to remember that courts have yet to consider the full merits of the case, and I believe that Arizona will ultimately prevail."
The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, passed in 2012, allowed deportation protection for the children of immigrants who had been in the U.S. for more than five years and met other requirements.
- Court Supports Arizona DREAMers on Driver's Licenses
- DMV Jammed as Colorado Issues Driver's Licenses to Undocumented Immigrants
— Elisha Fieldstadt, with The Associated Press