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Plaintiffs Seek Injunction Pending Appeal in Ariz. License Case

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on August 15, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In July, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, a group challenging an Arizona law that prohibited some immigrants from getting Arizona driver's licenses.

Yet, the law continues to be enforced against the very people who successfully challenged the law. Read on to find out why, and what they are doing about it.

The Arizona Law

In 2012, President Obama, by executive order, announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which would effectively let young illegal immigrants to live and work in the United States.

In response, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced an executive order of her own: "She directed state agencies to prevent illegal immigrants granted work authorization through the federal program from becoming eligible for any state identification, including a driver's license," according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Ninth Circuit

Plaintiffs challenged Arizona's law on preemption and equal protection grounds. A district court found the equal protection claim plausible, but did not grant an injunction because it was not convinced the plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm.

On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed, stating: "Defendants' policy appears intended to express animus toward DACA recipients themselves, in part because of the federal government's policy toward them. Such animus, however, is not a legitimate state interest." The Ninth Circuit remanded, instructing the district court to enter a preliminary injunction barring Arizona from enforcing its driving license policy against Plaintiffs.

Petition for Rehearing and Injunction

On July 18, before the district court entered the preliminary injunction, Gov. Brewer filed a petition for rehearing en banc. Within the week, the plaintiffs asked the district court to enter the injunction, but the court denied their motion on August 1. The court reasoned that the decision was not yet final because of the pending en banc petition, and also for the "reasons stated in its original preliminary injunction ruling" -- the reasoning which was reversed by the Ninth Circuit. As a result, on August 13, plaintiffs filed a motion for an injunction pending appeal.

The court has yet to rule on the motion for rehearing en banc, and instead ordered the plaintiffs to file a response to the petition for rehearing en banc, which is due any day now. We'll keep you posted as the case progresses.

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