The Arizona House of Representatives rejected a bill Thursday that would have ensured the state could issue driver licenses to people who have been granted temporary legal immigration status.
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Democrats in the House tried to amend an unrelated transportation bill to allow the state to grant drivers licenses for people who qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
That program, established by executive order of President Barack Obama last year, is meant to allow undocumented people who came to the country as children a reprieve from the threat of deportation.
Deferred action gives temporary work permits to those under 31 years of age who are in the country illegally. They must meet other requirements, including that they were brought to the U.S. as children; have no criminal record; have been in the country for the last five years; are either enrolled in or have graduated from high school or have served in the military.
Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Avondale, made the proposal in response to governor Jan Brewer's reaction to the deferred action program. She issued an order last year blocking the state from giving drivers licenses to people who receive deferred action status.
Last month, Brewer was asked to reconsider but said she would stand by her order.
He said he was trying to make sure state law is clear on the subject.
“This is a clarification of a statute that’s already in place, of a policy that we have already been doing, that the MVD has already been doing for many years," he said.
Rep. Karen Fann, R-Prescott, sponsored the bill Quezada was attempting to amend. She said his effort was premature, because she said the judicial system needs to decide if the president’s executive order is legal.
"And once those courts have weighed in, then at that point this body can debate how best we handle the court rulings," Fann said.
Quezada’s attempt to reverse Brewer’s order failed during a voice vote in the House and failed again on a second attempt in which each representative cast a vote.
The bill he was trying to amend, Fann's HB 2183, passed the House without Quezada's license amendment.
The bill imposes stricter state regulation of third-party driving schools, which the state already authorizes to train drivers and administer driving tests for licensure.