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Will Individuals Granted Deferred Action under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Policy Be Eligi ble for Driver’s Licenses?

February 5, 2013

Will Individuals Granted Deferred Action under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Policy Be Eligible for Driver’s Licenses?

Source: National Immigration Law Center

On June 15, 2012, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that, under its administrative authority, it would grant deferred action to immigrant youth residing in the U.S. who meet specific criteria. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy permits individuals who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 and who meet other age, education, continuous presence, and criminal history–related requirements to remain in the U.S. for a renewable two-year period and to apply for work authorization.

Deferred action is a longstanding form of relief that is included specifically in the federal REAL ID Act as a lawful status that would permit the issuance of a federally recognized driver’s license, valid during the period of authorized stay in the U.S.

Since the rules governing eligibility for driver’s licenses vary by state, a grant of DACA does not automatically provide access to a state driver’s license for the individual. But DACA recipients who are granted deferred action and obtain work authorization and Social Security numbers fit well within the general rules for driver’s license issuance in almost every state. Nevertheless, states such as Arizona and Michigan have chosen to single them out for discriminatory treatment.

The National Immigration Law Center has conducted a preliminary review, focusing on whether DACA recipients fit within the current laws and policies governing driver’s licenses. This is a work in progress, which will be refined as we learn what happens when DACA recipients apply for licenses.

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