AUSTIN – On May 1, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that the state would be joining 13 others in petitioning to help grant Arizona the right to deny driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants.
The petition is calling for a writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court to give its consent to Arizona. Other states who are joining Texas in backing the law include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Mississippi.
The action is in response to the effects of the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was passed in 2012. DACA allowed certain undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as minors to obtain eligibility for a work permit. Due to this policy, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals forced Arizona to grant driver's licenses to those with federal work permits.
After the February ruling against Arizona's driver's license ban, six dissenting judges wrote a letter stating that the decision creates “a world where the president really can pre-empt state laws with the stroke of a pen,” according to a press release from Paxton's office. Paxton shares a similar sentiment.
“We stand with Arizona against illegal federal overreach by the former president, who bypassed Congress to enact an immigration program he did not have the authority to create,” Paxton said in a press release. “We’re hopeful the U.S. Supreme Court will review the case and conclude that states have the right to decide who gets a driver’s license.”
Immigrant advocacy groups are already opposing the petition. James Garcia, the director of communications for the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (AHCC), told The Record that the appeal is "absolutely the wrong approach." He argues that it could prevent young immigrants from being productive, and inevitably hurt the U.S. economy.
"These young people are an asset to the U.S. economy," Garcia said. "Its workforce is aging and the economy is growing, so we need to fill jobs. We need to keep these young people who have already been educated in the U.S. in the system, because they are the future workforce of America."
Both Arizona and Texas have a history of introducing tough immigration policies. In 2010, Arizona passed Arizona Senate Bill 1070, which allowed police to check the citizenship of anyone who was arrested or detained simply based on "reasonable suspicion."
"SB1070, which is known as the 'show us your papers' law, was the toughest state-based immigration law in the country," Garcia said. "It led to racial profiling and discrimination."
The bill received much criticism and was mostly gutted and overturned.
A similar bill, SB4, has been passed in Texas and will go into effect in September.