(DES MOINES, Iowa) — Iowa DREAMers — thousands of undocumented people given a repreive from deportation by President Obama before the 2012 election — will not be awarded driver’s licenses.
The state’s Department of Transportation announced Thursday that it will not issue licenses or state identification cards to any of the illegal immigrants.
While some states, including California, Florida and Nevada, have said they will issue licenses, others, including Nebraska, Arizona and Michigan, have announced they will not.
Some groups, such as the National Immigration Law Center, have argued that deferred action recipients are eligible for licenses because they are eligible for work permits. But some states have countered that, because deferred action does not confer legal status upon recipients, state law prevents them from receiving licenses.
“The Iowa DOT understands the exercising of this prosecutorial discretion by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security does not grant lawful status or a lawful immigration path to persons granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival status,” the department said in a statement. “Rather, it is prosecutorial discretion extended in a blanket fashion to persons who are not lawfully authorized to be present in the United States.”
The Department of Homeland Security has said repeatedly that each state is responsible for determining whether to award driver’s licenses.
Immigrants’ rights organizations have filed suits in several states. In Michigan, several groups, including the National Immigration Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a suit against Republican Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson last week for blocking licenses for DREAMers.
According to the Des Moines Register, some Iowa deferred action recipients have already received driver’s licenses. One young man told the paper he was granted deferred action in October and issued a license a short time later after he passed the written and practical exams.
Paul Trombino, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, said he knows of only one license and one non-operator identification card that have been issued so far. Those will no longer be valid and will have to be returned, he said.
The deferred action policy has drawn criticism from some Republican lawmakers in Iowa, including Representative Steve King and Senator Chuck Grassley, who have called it an overreach of executive power.
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