Q: Should DACA participants be able to obtain driver’s licenses?

By Sarah Sidlow

Fun fact: The bolo tie was declared the official neckwear of Arizona in 1971. Clearly the Grand Canyon State has a thing for making rules. And following them, it would seem.

In more recent (and less fashionable) legal news, Arizona has been embroiled in an argument over whether “Dreamers” (young undocumented immigrants protected under DACA) should be able to obtain driver’s licenses. Spoiler alert: the Supreme
Court says yes.

Reverse, reverse
Shortly after President Obama launched the DACA program in 2012, then-Governor of Arizona Jan Brewer (R) said something along the lines of: fine, they can stay, but they can’t drive. So she directed state officials to stop issuing driver’s licenses for participants in the DACA program. Brewer’s vision was pretty straightforward: Arizona law states that licenses may only be issued to those who can prove they are in the country legally. Participating in DACA basically precludes you from being able to make that claim.

And then there’s this: DACA was technically enacted through a Department of Homeland Security memo, rather than congressional legislation. Why does that matter? Because a lot of people, Arizona lawmakers included, argue that enacting DACA without the consent of Congress was a major overreach of presidential power from the beginning, and that it doesn’t hold any legislative water.

For the record, Arizona is the only state going this hard in the paint to restrict Dreamers, or any DACA participants, from obtaining driver’s licenses.

But many in Arizona argue that it’s not really about driver’s licenses. It’s about a lot of other things: like feelings towards undocumented immigrants, questions over separation of power and unease about whether the president can bypass Congress to create binding legislation.

Let’s get litigious
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the state of Arizona on behalf of a group of DACA recipients denied licenses. A federal appeals court ruled in their favor, saying U.S. immigration law prohibits states from making distinctions among different classes of noncitizens. And just weeks ago, the Supreme Court refused to hear the ruling—effectively upholding the appeals court decision and barring the state of Arizona from denying licenses to DACA participants.

Like we mentioned, most states in the Union allow DACA participants to obtain driver’s licenses. To many, it comes down to public safety: just because someone doesn’t have a license doesn’t mean they won’t drive a car. It’s just safer to ensure that all vehicles on the road are being operated by someone who has gone through the standard training and testing protocol.

The larger issue
Debates around DACA are still going strong—with the Supreme Court seemingly at odds with the current administration’s challenge of the policy. President Trump’s March 5 deadline for Congress to enact legislation to replace DACA passed quietly, leaving state and federal lawmakers to implement legislation consistent with the court’s protections. Democratic leaders, meanwhile, dropped a number of immigration-related riders in this month’s push for government funding—a sure sign of the understanding that fights over immigration decisions are fair game for a government shutdown.


Driving US into a Wall

Giving DACA immigrants driver’s licenses encourages lawful behavior

By Don Hurst

Before we get into this, I have to make a few things clear. I am all for that big beautiful wall on the border. Build it all and build it tall. I can’t wait to see it towering over people trying to enter this country illegally. Sanctuary cities? Cut their federal law enforcement funding. While we’re at it, charge politicians like Oakland’s mayor with obstruction
of justice.

That being said, we should allow DACA immigrants to receive driver’s licenses.

Yes, DACA sucks. It’s not even a law. It’s basically an opinion shoved down our throats by royal decree.

President Obama unconstitutionally abused his executive power by circumventing established laws. He ignored checks and balances because negotiating with Republicans was just too hard for him. DACA wasn’t genius. It was lazy.

The program caused a humanitarian crisis on our border by encouraging mass migration. Since 2013, the Border Patrol has apprehended more than 250,000 unaccompanied children, many of those kids motivated by DACA benefits. Those children shared the same migration paths as cartel drug smugglers and human traffickers, braving weather, dehydration, sexual assault and robbery to take advantage of DACA. The dream was a damn nightmare.

We can hate DACA, but we can’t ignore the close to 700,000 human beings stuck in legislative limbo. They are here now. They are part of our status quo.

Status quo carries serious ramifications in politics. When warring countries negotiate peace they establish borders based on the status quo of controlled territory. North and South Korea are basically divided by a status quo border. Status quo is why we don’t pay reparations to families of former slaves or pay taxes to Mexico for Texas.

Acknowledging status quo keeps us from wasting energy shoving toothpaste back into the tube. No amount of praying to Sean Hannity will cause all these illegals to change their minds and walk south. A sane immigration policy secures our borders so we don’t arrive at this situation again, but also recognizes the fact that DACA immigrants are here to stay so we should integrate them into our society.

The left does a great job of portraying us illegal immigration opponents as racists. Sure, there are some extremists who want to Make America White Again (#MAWA), but for most of us it is a question of fairness.

Illegals drive on the same roads, send their children to the same schools, call for protection by the same law enforcement as legal residents. It’s not like Construction Fairies flit around tossing pixie dust and creating highways by magic while we sleep. No, it costs money. Specifically, your money.

Our government can only provide all these benefits if enough people are paying their share. Illegal immigration forces an unsustainable dynamic where there is a lot more taking than giving. It’s simple math. Taking more than what is put in eventually bankrupts us. Good feelings, inclusion marches and bilingual signs don’t balance budgets. Ask California.

That’s why so many of us oppose illegal immigration. We don’t care that their skin is brown and they can roll the letter r way better than us. We want them to enjoy what America offers but we also really want them to do their part to sustain it.

States don’t have to just hand out driver’s licenses. They can demand stipulations like proof that the immigrant has applied for citizenship or a legal resident status. They can dangle the license like a carrot to entice illegals to enter the system. Do the right thing and get something nice in return. The sooner illegals receive taxpayer ID numbers, the sooner they pay their share of taxes and the sooner people like me get a warm and fuzzy feeling for our new neighbors.

Giving them licenses also benefits public safety. Illegals causing traffic accidents induced migraines during my time as a Denver cop. Not that they were bad drivers or caused more accidents than legal residents. It’s just there was always drama.

Often they would flee the scene because they didn’t have a license and they were afraid ICE would swoop in and toss them on a plane back to Nicaragua. I’d run from the cops too if I thought they were going to make me go back there. If they actually remained at the scene they’d hand over a junk ID that looked like a kindergartner crafted it from their Fisher Price My First Forgery set. They usually wouldn’t have insurance because no company covers people driving illegally so the victim was on the hook for repairs. Sure, the victim could sue the illegal directly for damages, but good luck serving a subpoena to Juan Garcia or Juan Garcia de Lopez or whatever nombre du jour is printed on
the fake ID.

A state approved license could alleviate those headaches.

Since mass deportation is logistically impractical then we need to integrate these immigrants so they share our burden and accountability. Providing a driver’s license to people the President at the time said were protected residents in exchange for identifying them and putting them in the system seems like a fair compromise.


Here illegally? Congrats! Here’s a license!

DACA is Obama’s illegal gift that keeps on giving.

By Ron Kozar

We should not give driver’s licenses to people who cannot lawfully drive on our
roads. (Duh!)

By definition, someone here illegally cannot legally do anything here. If he’s here illegally, but we tell him that he may live here, raise a family here, and work here, then we are making a mockery of the law that his presence here violates. And that is even truer of activities that require a license. It takes a special kind of schizophrenia to call upon the government, whose laws he is violating by being here, to give him a license to drive a car here.

But our debate is not about just any old bunch of illegal aliens. It’s about the ones whom liberals give the irresistibly huggable name “Dreamers,” the ones who snuck across the border, or were snuck across by sneaky parents, before they turned 16. In 2012, Obama issued a proclamation called DACA that said Dreamers may stay and work here. Doesn’t that mean Dreamers are now here legally? 

The answer is no, and to understand why, you need to know the difference between a dictatorship and a republic. The US is supposed to be the latter. Nothing can become a law in this country unless both houses of Congress pass it and the President signs it. Consider a relevant example. In 1986, Congress passed and Reagan signed the Simpson-Mazzoli Act. That law legalized three million illegal aliens, but it prohibited Americans to employ any new illegals who might sneak in after ’86, such as the eleven million new ones, including every last Dreamer, who did exactly that. 

Just as it took an act of Congress to enact those restrictions, it would take an act of Congress to undo them. If the law says illegals can’t stay here and can’t work here, a president cannot undo that law all by himself as Obama purported to do with DACA. Letting the president make up laws on his own would require a dictatorship, which Reagan’s generation fought a war to prevent this country from becoming.

Every fourth grader used to understand this. Even Obama understood it.  When pressed early in his presidency to use an executive order to enact DACA, Obama said “I am not a king, I can’t do these things just by myself.” And later he said “with respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case.” And still later he said, “when I talk to immigration advocates, they wish I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself, but that’s not how a
democracy works.”

But the groovy kids who elected Obama don’t understand or care about such nuances, so our hipster-in-chief eventually decided to skip the pesky constitutional formalities and make rules the way kings and Führers do. Thus DACA was born, and Obama began devoting himself to enabling Dreamers do what the Simpson-Mazzoli Act still says, even today, that they cannot lawfully do, which is to stay and work in the USA.    

So, Dreamers are not here lawfully, DACA be damned. That is why, among other things, they can’t lawfully drive cars in this country and shouldn’t get licenses saying they can. 

What we’re witnessing is the Lois-Lerner-ization of our laws. As big as our government is, our codes of laws and regulations are bigger. There are just too many to enforce consistently. Selective enforcement is therefore becoming the new normal. And if the enforcer gets to choose which laws to enforce and when and against whom to enforce them, off comes the blindfold that the lady holding the scales of justice is supposed to wear. Your politics suddenly start to matter in ways that they shouldn’t. In the majestic language of the memo by which DACA was promulgated, the enforcers will start “exercising prosecutorial discretion,” which is a polysyllabic way of saying they will use their office to help their friends and stick it to their enemies. If the enforcer is a Democrat, somewhere in the back of his mind is the knowledge that those illegal aliens, if they could vote, are far likelier to vote for your side than for Donald Trump’s. 

And that suggests a motive behind this push for licenses for Dreamers. In this age of voter-ID laws, someone who didn’t know better might think the point of giving Dreamers licenses is to stack the electoral deck with a million or two new Democratic voters. It’s a more plausible explanation than the hooey about how giving them licenses will make the roads safer. A license in his pocket is a huge step toward enabling a Dreamer to vote. Liberals may cross their hearts and promise that that is not why they are so dead-set on licenses for Dreamers, but is anyone naive enough to believe them?

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Sarah Sidlow
Reach DCP editor Sarah Sidlow at SarahSidlow@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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