TUCSON, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- With a preliminary injunction to stop enforcing a ban, Arizona began offering driver's licenses to immigrants covered by a federal deferred deportation program.
A U.S. Supreme Court appeal by the state to maintain a ban on issuing driver's licenses and identification cards to Arizona's 22,000 immigrants covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program -- a class of young people nicknamed "Dreamers" -- was not heard. U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell's preliminary injunction allowed driver's tests to be taken, and licenses to be issued, beginning Monday.
Arizona Department of Transportation spokesman Timothy Tait said the turnout at Motor Vehicle Division offices was heavy. Lines began forming at 4 a.m. in some locations.
Ramon Maldonado, 19, who arrived in the United States from Mexico at age 8, passed the test and was the first to receive a license Monday at the Maryvale, Ariz., office. "I passed," he told the Los Angeles Times. "It feels good to have a license and not worry about how to get around. It feels so nice. You don't have to be hiding from nothing. Now I feel like a normal driver."
"For me, I feel accomplished," Luis Ruelas, 24, told the Arizona Daily Star. He arrived when he was 8, and received his license Monday at a Tucson office.
Arizona still bans Dreamers from receiving other state benefits, and Gov. Jan Brewer said she would continue fighting federal rulings which overrule state policy.
"Arizona has the constitutional right and authority to enforce state statute. This right must be protected. It must be defended. And as long as I am governor, I will do exactly that," she said in a statement.
Brewer's term as governor ends in January; Arizona has until Feb. 22 to request a full hearing on its driving ban by the U.S. Supreme Court.