Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was surprised on Valentine’s Day with roses and balloons from dreamers who are asking her to open her heart and let deferred action recipient get driver’s licenses.
“We want her to change her heart and let us drive,” said Abril Gallardo, a 22-year-old dreamer and member of Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), the group that organized the event.
Gallardo was among the nearly 50 dreamers and activists who crowded Brewer’s office on Thursday to deliver the gifts along with more than 1,000 Valentine’s Day cards. Each card had a message for Brewer. One of the cards was written by a 7-year-old girl who wrote, “Let my big sister drive! I am a 2nd grader!”
The group also requested a meeting with Brewer. This is the third time members of LUCHA have requested a meeting with the governor since she issued an executive order on Aug. 15 barring deferred action recipients from getting driver’s licenses. So far, they haven’t been successful in scheduling a meeting with her.
“We’ve been trying to meet with her to get a real answer from her on why she is denying us driver’s licenses,” Gallardo told VOXXI.
Jan Brewer won’t change her mind
Brewer argues that deferred action recipients are not eligible for driver’s licenses because the federal program doesn’t grant them a lawful status. She says that under Arizona law, only individuals who have a lawful status are able to get driver’s licenses in the state.
But according to the Arizona Department of Transportation, Arizona law requires residents to submit proof that their presence in the United States is “authorized under federal law” to be eligible for a driver’s license.
The federal government clarified about a month ago that undocumented youth who have received deferred action are “authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be present in the United States” and are “considered by DHS to be lawfully present during the period deferred action is in effect.”
Still, Brewer announced this week that she is standing by her order to not allow deferred action recipients to get driver’s licenses, making Arizona one of the few states left that still deny this state benefit to deferred action recipients.
Attorney: Deferred action recipients qualify for licenses
Jose Peñalosa, an immigration attorney, said in a statement that Gov. Jan Brewer and her attorneys “know very little about immigration law.” He said deferred action recipients do qualify for driver’s licenses because they are authorized by the federal government to be in the country.
Peñalosa is confident that the plaintiffs in the Arizona Dream Act Coalition v. Brewer federal court case, which challenges Brewer’s executive order, will win.
He added that having Brewer issue the executive order on the same day that the federal government began accepting requests for deferred action “really convinces me that her heart is hardened.”
“If her heart is so touched by the Dreamers, you, Governor Brewer, should give the Dreamers a great Valentine’s Day gift and allow them to have licenses,” he said.