757 F.3d 1053 (9th Cir. 2014), 13-16248, Arizona DREAM Act Coalition v. Brewer

Docket Nº:13-16248
Citation:757 F.3d 1053
Opinion Judge:PREGERSON, Circuit Judge:
Party Name:ARIZONA DREAM ACT COALITION; JESUS CASTRO-MARTINEZ; CHRISTIAN JACOBO; ALEJANDRA LOPEZ; ARIEL MARTINEZ; NATALIA PEREZ-GALLEGOS, DGC, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. JANICE K. BREWER, Governor of the State of Arizona, in her official capacity; JOHN S. HALIKOWSKI, Director of the Arizona Department of Transportation, in his official capacity; STACEY K. STAN
Attorney:Victor Viramontes (argued) and Jorge M. Castillo, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Los Angeles, California; Jennifer Chang Newell, Cecillia D. Wang, Araceli Mart
Judge Panel:Before: Harry Pregerson, Marsha S. Berzon, and Morgan Christen, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Pregerson; Concurrence by Judge Christen. CHRISTEN, Circuit Judge,
Case Date:July 07, 2014
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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757 F.3d 1053 (9th Cir. 2014)

ARIZONA DREAM ACT COALITION; JESUS CASTRO-MARTINEZ; CHRISTIAN JACOBO; ALEJANDRA LOPEZ; ARIEL MARTINEZ; NATALIA PEREZ-GALLEGOS, DGC, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

JANICE K. BREWER, Governor of the State of Arizona, in her official capacity; JOHN S. HALIKOWSKI, Director of the Arizona Department of Transportation, in his official capacity; STACEY K. STANTON, Assistant Director of the Motor Vehicle Division of the Arizona Department of Transportation, in her official capacity, Defendants-Appellees

No. 13-16248

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

July 7, 2014

Argued and Submitted, Pasadena, California December 3, 2013.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. David G. Campbell, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. 2:12-cv-02546.

Civil Rights

The panel reversed the district court's denial of a motion for a preliminary injunction and remanded in an action challenging an Arizona policy which prohibits recipients of the federal program called the " Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" from obtaining driver's licenses byusing Employment Authorization Documents as proof of their authorized presence in the United States.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program authorizes certain immigrants, who came without permission to the United States as children, to remain in the United States. The panel stated that although on the current record, it was unable to resolve whether plaintiffs had established a likelihood of success on the merits of their preemption claim, plaintiffs had shown that they were likely to succeed on the merits of their equal protection claim. The panel held that even applying a rational basis of review, it could identify no legitimate state interest that was rationally related to defendants' decision to treat DACA recipients disparately from other noncitizens who were permitted to use their Employment Authorization Documents as proof of their authorized presence in the United States when applying for driver's licenses.

The panel further held that plaintiffs had shown that they were likely to suffer irreparable harm unless defendants' policy was enjoined, and that both the balance of equities and the public interest favored an injunction. The panel remanded with instructions that the district court enter a preliminary injunction prohibiting defendants from enforcing any policy by which the Arizona Department of Transportation refuses to accept plaintiffs' Employment Authorization Documents, issued to plaintiffs under DACA, as proof that plaintiffs are authorized under federal law to be present in the United States.

Joining in the majority opinion and concurring as to Part II.A, Judge Christen stated that she agreed that plaintiffs demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their equal protection claim. Judge Christen further agreed that plaintiffs had shown a likelihood of irreparable injury, and satisfied the other prerequisites for injunctive relief. She wrote separately to express her view that plaintiffs had also demonstrated a likelihood of success on their preemption claim because Arizona's policy regulates immigration by creating a new classification of alien status.

Victor Viramontes (argued) and Jorge M. Castillo, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Los Angeles, California; Jennifer Chang Newell, Cecillia D. Wang, Araceli Martí nez, Michael Tan, and R. Orion Danjuma, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation Immigrants' Rights Project, San Francisco, California; Linton Joaquin, Karen C. Tumlin, Shiu-Ming Cheer, Nora A. Preciado, and Nicholá s Espí ritu, National Immigration Law Center, Los Angeles, California; Daniel J. Pochoda, Kelly J. Flood, and James Duff Lyall, ACLU Foundation of Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Timothy Berg (argued), Douglas C. Northup, and Sean T. Hood, Fennemore Craig, P.C., Phoenix, Arizona; Joseph Sciarrotta, Jr., Office of Governor Janice K. Brewer, Phoenix, Arizona, for Defendants-Appellees.

Lawrence J. Joseph, Washington, D.C., for Amicus Curiae Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund.

Before: Harry Pregerson, Marsha S. Berzon, and Morgan Christen, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Pregerson; Concurrence by Judge Christen.

OPINION

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PREGERSON, Circuit Judge:

The federal government has enacted a program called " Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" (" DACA" ), which authorizes certain immigrants who came to the United States as children, without permission, to remain in the United States. In response, Arizona officials -- Defendants

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here -- implemented a policy that prevents DACA recipients from obtaining Arizona driver's licenses.

Plaintiffs -- five individual DACA recipients living in Arizona, plus an organization promoting the interests of young immigrants -- sought a preliminary injunction prohibiting Defendants from enforcing their policy, arguing that the policy violates the Equal Protection Clause and is preempted. The district court found that Defendants' policy deprives Plaintiffs of driver's licenses for no rational reason, and thus violates the Equal Protection Clause. The district court nonetheless denied the preliminary injunction, because it found Plaintiffs were not likely to suffer irreparable harm from this constitutional violation.

We agree that Plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their equal protection claim. And contrary to the district court's conclusion, we hold that Plaintiffs are likely to suffer irreparable harm unless Defendants' policy is enjoined. The remaining injunction factors -- the public interest and the balance of the equities -- also tip in Plaintiffs' favor. We therefore reverse the district court's denial of a preliminary injunction. We remand for entry of a preliminary injunction prohibiting Defendants from enforcing its policy by which the Arizona Department of Transportation refuses to accept Plaintiffs' Employment Authorization Documents, issued to Plaintiffs under DACA, for purposes of obtaining an Arizona driver's license.

BACKGROUND

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Many immigrants come to the United States as children, without permission, and subsequently remain in this country as they mature into adults. The Secretary of Homeland Security has determined that our nation's immigration laws were not designed " to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language" -- particularly when " many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways." Memorandum from Janet Napolitano, Sec'y of Homeland Sec., on Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children (June 15, 2012). On June 15, 2012, the Secretary announced that her Department would begin exercising prosecutorial discretion in immigration cases involving these young people. Specifically, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would offer " certain young people who were brought to this country as children and know only this country as home" a form of deferred action, which would allow them to remain present in the United States without fear of removal. This policy came to be known as " Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," or " DACA."

To be eligible for DACA, immigrants must have come to the United States before the age of sixteen and have been under thirty-one years old as of June 15, 2012; they must have been living in the United States when DACA was announced and have continuously resided in the United States for at least the previous five years; and they must have graduated from high school, or obtained a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces or the Coast Guard, or be currently enrolled in school. Additionally, they must not pose any threat to public safety: anyone who has been convicted of multiple misdemeanors, a single significant misdemeanor, or any felony offense is ineligible for DACA.

Like recipients of other forms of deferred action, DACA recipients enjoy no formal immigration status. Nevertheless, DACA recipients are permitted by DHS to

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remain in the United States for a renewable two-year period. DHS considers DACA recipients not to be unlawfully present in the United States because their deferred action is a period of stay authorized by the Attorney General. See 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(9)(B)(ii); 8 C.F.R. 214.14(d)(3); U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Servs., Adjudicator's Field Manual Ch. 40.9.2(b)(3)(J). DACA recipients are also eligible to receive Employment Authorization Documents, allowing them to work in the United States. Indeed, would-be DACA recipients are required to apply for employment authorization when they apply for DACA.

Arizona Law and Defendants' Policy

Arizona law prohibits the Arizona Department of Transportation from issuing driver's licenses to anyone " who does not submit proof satisfactory to the department that the applicant's presence in the United States is authorized under federal law." Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 28-3153(D). Arizona does not further define " presence . . . authorized under federal law," except through an Arizona Department of Transportation policy listing the documents it accepts as establishing authorized presence. Ariz. Dep't of Transp. Policy 16.1.2. Until August 2012, that policy listed all Employment Authorization Documents issued by the federal government as sufficient to establish " that the applicant's presence in the United States is authorized under federal law"...

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