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Arizona's drivers license denials invite questions of racism

“Does it come down to racism?”

That is a question Latino groups and others have asked in relation to Arizona’s obsession in trying to deny driver’s licenses to legally eligible undocumented immigrants.

Only this time, as reported in The Los Angeles Times, the pointed question was coming from a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judge.

“Does it come down to racism?” Judge Harry Pregerson asked Arizona’s legal team at a hearing last month regarding the state’s continual battle to refuse driver’s licenses to so-called DREAMers.

DREAMers are children of undocumented immigrants who were brought here at a young age. Many have known no other country and – other than lacking a piece of paper saying so – are as American as most any other teen or young adult living here.

“Does it come down to discrimination against these people? What else does it come down to?” the judge asked Arizona lawyers.

“Judge, I wish you wouldn’t say things like that,” replied Arizona Assistant Attorney General Dominic Draye.

No doubt, Arizona doesn’t like that question asked.

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But in a state with a recent history of the SB 1070 “show me your papers” legislation that brought international scorn, a boycott and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the law; a publicity-seeking sheriff found guilty of racially profiling Latinos and subject to possible contempt of court charges; a defiant then-governor who exaggerated border violence by claiming there were “beheadings” in the desert; and a major political party inviting an appearance by a presidential candidate who claimed Mexico is sending its criminals and rapists as undocumented immigrants, the question about race as a motivation will continue to be asked.

Arizona being the only state in the union still fighting this driver’s license issue – despite several federal court rulings in favor of DACA (Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals) grantees – only adds to the questioning.

Nebraska had been the lone holdout state but last May its unicameral Legislature voted 34-10 to override its governor’s roadblock to driver’s licenses for DREAMers.

No such action is scheduled nor expected in Arizona.

Instead, through court appeals, Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Gov.  Doug Ducey continue to seek to enforce the 2012 executive order by then-Governor Jan Brewer to deny driver’s licenses to DACA individuals, most of whom are of Mexican heritage.

“They’re part of our culture, they’ve gone to our schools, they’ve made contributions,” said Judge Pregerson, also noting that all such DREAMers are individually scrutinized before becoming eligible for DACA status.

The judge said Arizona has failed to show any ill effects from issuing the driver's licenses.

The federal appellate court decision on the matter is expected soon.

Once again, Arizona may not like the answer. But it will be interesting to see if Arizona continues to raise the question.

The director of communications for the Morrison Institute of Public Policy at ASU, Garcia is a longtime, award-winning journalist whose experience as a top editor, columnist and reporter included positions at The Arizona Republic, The Daily Times, Tucson Citizen, USA Today and The Associated Press.

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1 comment on this story

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15 comments
Aug 5, 2015, 1:30 pm
-2 +0

Thanks they added so much!! love living in the third world slums now.

http://www.ky3.com/news/local/man-is-charged-with-attempted-rape-for-attack-on-woman-on-street/21048998_34508894

http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/29661756/tpd-suspect-was-armed-in-sexual-assault-of-16-yr-old “Just because you don’t report the suspects description, doesn’t change the fact it was a dreamer.”

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