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Valenzuela v. Ducey

United States District Court, D. Arizona

January 26, 2017

Lucrecia Rivas Valenzuela, et al., Plaintiffs,
Doug Ducey, et al., Defendants.


          David G. Campbell United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs argue that Arizona's policy of denying driver's licenses to certain deferred action recipients violates the Supremacy and Equal Protection Clauses of the United States Constitution. Doc. 1. This Court and the Ninth Circuit previously held that this same policy violates the Constitution with respect to individuals who receive deferred action through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program. Arizona Dream Act Coal. v. Brewer (“Dream Act III”), 81 F.Supp.3d 795, 799 (D. Ariz. 2015); Arizona Dream Act Coal. v. Brewer (“Dream Act IV”), 818 F.3d 901 (9th Cir. 2016). Plaintiffs now ask the Court to consider the constitutionality of Executive Order 2012-06 and Arizona Department of Transportation's (“ADOT”) Motor Vehicle Division (“MVD”) Policy 16.1.4 with respect to individuals who receive deferred action outside the DACA program and individuals with deferred enforced departure. Doc. 1.

         Plaintiffs have filed motions for preliminary injunction (Doc. 30) and class certification (Doc. 27), and Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for judgment on the pleadings (Doc. 37). All motions have been fully briefed, and the Court heard oral argument on January 20, 2017. The Court denied the motion for class certification before oral argument and directed the parties to conduct discovery before filing renewed briefs on the matter. Doc. 54. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny Defendants' motion to dismiss and Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction.

         I. Background.

         A. Defendants' Driver's License Policy and 2013 Revision.

         A.R.S. § 28-3153(D) states that non-citizens may obtain Arizona driver's licenses by presenting proof that their presence in the United States is authorized under federal law. On August 15, 2012, then Governor Jan Brewer issued Executive Order 2012-06, which concluded that “issuance of Deferred Action or Deferred Action USCIS employment authorization documents to unlawfully present aliens does not confer upon them any lawful or authorized status and does not entitle them to any additional public benefit.” Doc. 30-3 at 2. The Executive Order directed state agencies to “conduct a full statutory, rule-making and policy analysis and . . . initiate operational, policy, rule and statutory changes necessary to prevent Deferred Action recipients from obtaining eligibility, beyond those available to any person regardless of lawful status, for any taxpayer-funded public benefits and state identification, including a driver's license[.]” Id. ADOT Director John S. Halikowski amended his agency's policies to conform with this Executive Order, issuing a revised version of MVD Policy 16.1.4 on September 17, 2012. Doc. 30-4. This version of the policy specifically identified EADs issued to DACA recipients as insufficient to demonstrate authorized presence for purposes of obtaining an Arizona driver's license. Id. at 30-4.

         Director Halikowski continued to review the policy after the 2012 revision and during the pendency of the lawsuit brought by the Arizona Dream Act Coalition. Dream Act III, 81 F.Supp.3d at 801. Noting concerns about inconsistencies in ADOT's treatment of EAD holders, Director Halikowski issued an amended version of the MVD Policy in 2013 that explicitly identified EADs coded (a)(11), (c)(14), or (c)(33) as insufficient to demonstrate authorized presence for purposes of obtaining a driver's license. Id.; Doc. 27-3. The (c)(33) category applied to DACA recipients, and the (a)(11) and (c)(14) categories applied to Plaintiffs in this case. Explaining this amendment, “Director John S. Halikowski testified that Arizona views an EAD as proof of presence authorized under federal law only if the EAD demonstrates: (1) the applicant has formal immigration status; (2) the applicant is on a path to obtaining formal immigration status; or (3) the relief sought or obtained is expressly provided pursuant to the INA.” Dream Act IV, 818 F.3d at 907.

         B. Previous Case.

         In response to ADOT's refusal to provide driver's licenses to DACA recipients, the Arizona Dream Act Coalition brought suit alleging violations of the Equal Protection and Supremacy Clauses of the United States Constitution. See Arizona Dream Act Coal. v. Brewer, 945 F.Supp.2d 1049, 1053 (D. Ariz. 2013). This Court held that ADOT's policy violated the Equal Protection Clause and permanently enjoined ADOT from denying driver's licenses to DACA recipients. Dream Act III, 81 F.Supp.3d 795. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the permanent injunction on the basis of preemption, but did not overturn the Court's equal protection ruling. Dream Act IV, 818 F.3d at 920.

         D. Plaintiffs' Deferred Action Status.

         Plaintiffs each hold an EAD coded (c)(14) based on his or her pending application for a U-visa or immigration relief under the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”). Docs. 30-7, 30-8, 30-9, 30-10, 30-11. Like DACA recipients, individuals with EADs coded (c)(14) are recipients of deferred action. Plaintiffs seek to represent the following class: “All noncitizens who present or will present an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in order to establish authorized presence and are being denied Arizona driver's licenses resulting from Defendants' 2013 policy and related practices pursuant to Executive Order 2012-06, MVD Policy 16.1.4, and MVD Policy 16.1.4's implementing practices.” Doc. 27 at 8. Plaintiffs made clear during oral argument that this proposed class includes recipients of deferred enforced departure who hold EADs coded (a)(11).

         II. Motion to Dismiss and for Judgment on the Pleadings.

         Defendants contend that Plaintiffs lack standing and the Court therefore lacks jurisdiction over their claims. “Unless the jurisdictional issue is inextricable from the merits of a case, the court may determine jurisdiction on a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” Kingman Reef Atoll Invs., L.L.C. v. United States, 541 F.3d 1189, 1195 (9th Cir.2008). To resolve a 12(b)(1) motion, the Court does not presume Plaintiffs' allegations to be true and may “look to facts outside the pleadings to determine whether [it] ha[s] jurisdiction.” Cassirer v. Kingdom of Spain, 616 F.3d 1019, 1043 (9th Cir. 2010). The Court may “resolv[e] factual disputes where necessary.” Augustine v. United States, 704 F.2d 1074, 1077 (9th Cir.1983). But “where the jurisdictional issue and substantive issues are so intertwined that the question of jurisdiction is dependent on the resolution of factual issues going to the merits, the jurisdictional determination should await a determination of the relevant facts on either a motion going to the merits or at trial.” Id.

         Defendants also argue that Plaintiffs' claims against Governor Ducey are barred by sovereign immunity. They assert that he is not responsible for the policy at issue in this case and therefore cannot be sued under the doctrine of Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908).

         A. ...

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