DHS Statement May Force States to Review Driver License Policies


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) clarified on Friday, January 18, 2013, that undocumented youth who are given work permits and deportation reprieve under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are considered to be lawfully present during the period deferred action is in effect.         

The updated guidelines posted on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website state that “an individual who has received deferred action is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be present in the U.S., and is therefore considered by DHS to be lawfully present during the period deferred action is in effect.”

States like Arizona, Iowa and Michigan, which deny driver’s licenses to DACA recipients, are now in a very difficult position, because DHS has confirmed that those individuals are authorized to be in the U.S.

Last year, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer issued an executive order barring deferred action recipients from getting driver’s licenses in Arizona.  She argued that this group of immigrants did not qualify to get driver’s licenses because the program did not state that its recipients were given a lawful status or authorization to be in the country.  

Matthew Benson, a spokesperson for Brewer, told The Arizona Republic on Friday, “The governor and her legal team are reviewing this latest guidance from the federal government and are trying to determine the best path forward for the state of Arizona.”