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Thursday
Jan242013

Iowa DREAMers Will Get Licenses

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Iowa's state government ruled on Wednesday that DREAMers will be eligible for driver's licenses, a reversal of its previous position.

The Iowa Department of Transportation issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon stating that "it can now issue driver's licenses or nonoperator identification (ID) cards to persons granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA]."

According to the agency, the decision was made based on guidance issued last week by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that said that young undocumented workers granted a two-year reprieve from deportation under the DACA program are "lawfully present" in the country.

Each state has the ability to determine whether to award licenses to deferred action recipients, and several, including Iowa, said DREAMers would not be eligible because they did not have "legal status."

Iowa DOT released a statement in December explaining its decision was based on the fact that deferred action "does not grant lawful status or a lawful immigration path to persons granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival status. Rather, it is prosecutorial discretion extended in a blanket fashion to persons who are not lawfully authorized to be present in the United States."

States such as Arizona, Nebraska and Michigan fell into the same category, which angered immigrant rights groups that said states should issue licenses because the program awards people the right to work in the country.

Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad said during a Tuesday news conference that he was asking the DOT to review the state's policy to not issue licenses in light of the updated USCIS guidelines, and the decision to award the licenses was reached on Wednesday.

Iowa is unlikely to be the last state to reconsider the issue in light of the new guidelines.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio