PHOENIX – A revised Arizona Department of Transportation policy to restrict the issuance of driver licenses and identification cards to certain holders of deferred action immigration documents does not have a harmful effect on immigrants who are crime victims or refugees.
Arizona law prohibits ADOT from issuing a driver license to applicants who cannot establish that their presence is authorized under federal law. Through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and litigation pending in federal district court, ADOT became aware that Employment Authorization Cards, which are assigned specific category codes, were used to obtain Arizona driver licenses by certain individuals who do not have authorized presence under federal law. This prompted ADOT to review and update its list of accepted identification documents to ensure that the forms of identification accepted provide proof of lawful presence and are consistent with state statute and federal law.
The policy revision not to accept certain Employment Authorization Cards that are granted to recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, deferred action or deferred enforced deportation, will have little, if any, impact on sex trafficking victims, domestic violence victims or refugees from war zones. The U.S. Congress has addressed these circumstances and has provided specific remedies in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Persons eligible for these forms of relief provided pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act are also eligible for Employment Authorization Cards with category codes that ADOT will continue to accept as primary form of identification for obtaining a driver license.
For sex trafficking victims, these Employment Authorization Card codes are accepted by ADOT:
- T Visa (A16), U Visa (A19), Temporary Protected Status (A12), Adjustment of Status (C9) and Parole (C11)
For domestic violence victims, these Employment Authorization Card codes are accepted by ADOT:
- Relief pursuant to the Violence Against Women Act (available to men and women) (C31), Temporary Protected Status (A12), Adjustment of Status (C9) and Parole (C11)
For refugees, these Employment Authorization Card codes are accepted by ADOT:
- Refugee (A3), Asylee (A5), Asylum (C8), Temporary Protected Status (A12), Adjustment of Status (C9) and Parole (C11)
Those immigrants must apply through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to obtain an Employment Authorization Card with a category code that is accepted.
Deferred action is simply the decision not to enforce immigrations laws. When an individual is granted relief under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, deferred action or deferred enforced departure, that individual remains subject to removal proceedings pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act. An individual granted one of these forms of relief therefore does not have authorized presence under federal law. The federal executive branch has simply decided not to enforce federal immigration law with respect to that individual and to defer the removal of that individual for a period of time.
The purported 40,000 figure referenced in media reports encompasses all issuances and renewals using all forms of Employment Authorization Cards during an eight-year time period. Most of these forms of Employment Authorization Cards remain acceptable as a primary form of identification. Those cards with the categories A11 (Deferred Enforced Departure), C14 (Deferred Action) and C33 (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) are just a subset of the several forms of Employment Authorization Cards; it is only these three categories of Employment Authorization Cards that ADOT will no longer accept as a primary form of identification for purposes of demonstrating lawful presence.
Having recognized that Employment Authorization Cards with the A11, C14 and C33 category codes do not demonstrate authorized presence under federal law, ADOT has determined that the proper course in order to comply with Arizona law is to revise its policy so that these Employment Authorization Cards are no longer accepted. If ADOT continued to accept these Employment Authorization Cards, it could subject ADOT to additional lawsuits aimed at attempting to force ADOT to issue licenses to others who are ineligible under Arizona law.