Jan Brewer Bucks WH’s ‘Deferred Action’ by Punishing AZ Undocumented Youth
Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz), known most for ushering in one of the most restrictive anti-immigration laws in the country which was recently struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States, bucked against the White House’s new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) by issuing an executive order to deny any public benefits to those undocumented youth who would qualify for the two years stays the new national immigration policy offers—leaving Arizona-bound DREAMers stranded without a way to obtain state identification (including a driver’s license), or state-taxpayer funded services.
Other public benefits that would be DREAMers would be denied include state-subsidized child care KidsCare, a children's health-insurance program, unemployment benefits, business and professional licenses and government contracts, Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson told The Republic newspaper.
DACA “does not confer upon them any lawful or authorized status and does not entitle them to any additional public benefits.” Brewer wrote in the order [PDF].
Legal experts speculate that the order will likely be challenged in court, as reported by NBCnews.com, because it may conflict with both state and federal laws.
“For something this significant I would not be surprised if there were multiple groups that end up challenging this order,” said Regina Jefferies, a Phoenix immigration lawyer and chair of the Arizona chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “Brewer quoted the correct statute but problem is the state laws interchangeably use ‘legal status’ and ‘lawful presence’ like they mean the same thing. They don’t. They the mean very different things under federal immigration law,” she said.
Evelyn Cruz, an Arizona State University clinical law professor and director of the Immigration Law & Policy Clinic, pointed out to NBC News that the REAL ID Act of 2005–a federal law that changed requirements for state driver’s licenses and ID cards–specifically state that undocumented immigrants who have been granted “deferred action” are among those eligible for a license.
“The state of Arizona has regularly issued licenses to people lawfully present in the U.S. even though they don’t have lawful status," Jeffires said. “For something this significant I would not be surprised if there were multiple groups that end up challenging this order.”
Yesterday evening, the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition marched to the state’s capitol to protest the order to deny. "We are saddened that Governor Brewer is siding with the past, against progress, against young people and the general support the DREAM Act has among Arizona's citizens," Arizona DREAM Act Coalition (ADAC) Chair Dulce Matuz, wrote in a press release. "The Governor needs to stop bullying defenseless young people and start creating solutions for Arizona and the Nation.”
The deferred action policy, which was enacted yesterday, could help as many as 1.4 million DREAMers come out of the shadows. Those who would qualify would have to be under 30, have arrived in the states under the age of 16, prove they’ve lived in the states since June 15, 2007, and serve our country by either enrolling in school, applying their degrees to boosting the economy, or provide military service. DACA beneficiaries of must also not have any felony or significant misdemeanor convictions, freeing up the Department of Homeland security to focus on genuine threats to our nation’s security.
Naima Ramos-Chapman is an associate editor at Campus Progress.