A firestorm of publicity has ignited in Arizona after Governor Jan Brewer signed an executive order that would prevent newly “waivered” illegal immigrants from receiving any taxpayer funds that are allotted for citizens. The executive order preempts details in President Obama’s executive order that gives the so-called “dreamers” (illegals under 30 who have completed some educational program) a two-year window to stop their deportation process and obtain a work permit.
Two-years ago Washington DC lawmakers battled and failed to pass the DREAM Act. The act would have given children in the country illegally a pathway to citizenship. Along with that new legal status guardians could begin collecting taxpayer benefits, like housing subsidies, food stamps and college grants typically reserved for citizens. Another reason that held up the DREAM Act is America’s stubbornly high unemployment and sluggish economic recovery.
However, in an effort to gain political favor, President Obama decided to grant temporary legal status for upwards of one million people. The executive order, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, began taking applications yesterday and is expected to process approximately 1,000 claims per day.
Nevertheless, Mr. Obama may have underestimated Arizona’s tenacious governor as she signed her own executive order protecting state residents and their pocketbooks. Brewer’s prickly relationship with President Obama is well documented and she said the new waiver program was nothing more than “backdoor amnesty.”
The governor also directed state lawmakers to begin the emergency-rule making process ensuring Arizona officials do not issue driver’s licenses, state identification cards or other public benefits.
The executive order explains the added financial burden of 80,000 “newly” waivered applicants would cost millions of dollars. “Allowing more than an estimated 80,000 Deferred Action recipients improper access to state or local benefits, including state issued identification, by presenting a USCIS employment authorization document that does not evidence lawful, authorized status or presence will have significant and lasting impacts on the Arizona budget, its health care system and additional public benefits that Arizona taxpayers fund,” a portion of the order read.
The ACLU swiftly responded to Governor Brewer’s executive order.
“This is yet another reason why Arizona has no business trying to regulate immigration matters,” said the Arizona ACLU Executive Director Alessandra Soler. “Brewer is distorting federal law and inaccurately interpreting state law. This order conflicts with state and federal law because people who are granted deferred action will, in fact, have authorized presence in the United States and under Arizona law people who have authorized presence are eligible to apply for Arizona state identification. She is perpetuating the myth that deferred action applicants are somehow submitting fraudulent documents and that is completely false.”
The governor cites controversial SB1070 law as precedent and reminded critics that voters overwhelmingly passed the illegal immigration measure including the parts the Supreme Court upheld in June.
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