In response to the new federal DACA (deferred action program for childhood arrivals) program, state governments are now grappling with related issues and policies administered at the state level. Most pressing is whether those qualifying for the program can obtain driver’s licenses, and states already have responded with very disparate results. For example, Arizona and Nebraska have barred DACA recipients from getting driver’s licenses. Others, such as Iowa and Michigan, initially denied driver’s licenses to such individuals but after lawsuits by pro-immigrant activists (who argued, among other things, that DACA grantees won’t be able to take their children to school or drive around for errands), have since changed their policies. More recently, North Carolina stated that DACA grantees must be issued a North Carolina driver’s license in accordance with state law. For a list of state policies, see the exhaustive document compiled by the National Immigration Law Center.

Other related issues also are starting to percolate up from the states. For example, are DACA grantees eligible for commercial and professional licenses, most commonly issued by state governments?  State courts are now hearing cases involving the ability of law graduates who pass the bar exam to get a license to practice law.  Last year, the Justice Department wrote an opinion that undocumented immigrants are not allowed to receive state- and federally issued commercial and professional licenses, but the opinion did not specifically address DACA grantees. 

Stay tuned.