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Driver's-license ban tough for immigrants, especially for abused

Arizona has stopped giving driver’s licenses to all immigrants who receive any form of deferred action from deportation, not just those approved for President Barack Obama’s program aimed at “dreamers” — the young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Civil-rights and advocacy groups say this decision is wrong and was made to defend the state against a federal lawsuit challenging an executive order by Gov. Jan Brewer’s denying driver’s licenses to dreamers who receive deferred action. The change applies only to immigrants who receive work permits through certain categories of deferred action, not those who receive work permits through other ways. It said that those categories include “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” “deferred action” and “deferred enforced deportation,” and that the change will have “little, if any, impact on sex trafficking victims, domestic violence victims or refugees from war zones.” Several immigration attorneys, however, said the change will deny driver’s licenses to hundreds of immigrants in Arizona who receive work permits every year as the result of deferred action and perhaps hundreds more who already have work permits through deferred action but won’t be able to renew their licenses. There are three deferred-action categories affected by the driver’s-license ban. The C14 and the others categories: C33, which are work permits issued to dreamers approved for Obama’s deferred-action program, and A11, a deferred-enforcement departure category that applies to some Liberian refugees. Deferred action allows abused immigrants to live and work in the U.S. temporarily while their application for legal status is pending, a process that sometimes can take months or years, immigration lawyers said. In many deferred-action cases, immigrants are kept from leaving an abusive relationship because of their lack of immigration status, immigration lawyers say. “These are tactics people use to control and intimidate,” Flanagan said. By banning them from getting driver’s licenses, the state will make it more difficult for abused immigrants who receive deferred action to work, immigration lawyers said. Hundreds of battered women and some men who have received deferred action will be affected by the driver’s-license ban.

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