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Updated Aug 16, 2012 - 3:15 pm

Gov. Jan Brewer bars public benefits for illegal immigrants

PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday ordered state agencies to
deny driver’s licenses and other public benefits to young illegal immigrants who
obtain work authorizations under a new Obama administration policy.

In an executive order, Brewer said she was reaffirming the intent of current
Arizona law denying taxpayer-funded public benefits and state identification to
illegal immigrants.

Young illegal immigrants around the nation on Wednesday began the process of
applying for federal work permits under the Obama administration’s Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrivals.

The federal policy defers deportations for that group if they meet certain
criteria, including arrival in the United States before they turned 16 and no
convictions for certain crimes.

After President Barack Obama announced the policy change in June, Brewer
labeled it “backdoor amnesty” and political pandering by the Democratic

Arizona has been in the vanguard of states enacting laws against illegal

The U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned parts of the Arizona enforcement law
known as SB1070 but ruled that a key provision on requiring police to ask people
about their immigration status under certain circumstances can be implemented.

The Obama administration challenged that law in 2010 after Brewer signed it
into law.

In the past decade, Arizona voters twice approved laws denying publicly funded
services, such as in-state resident university tuition rates, to illegal
immigrants unless mandated by the federal government.

Brewer’s order said the policy’s federal paperwork doesn’t confer lawful status
on illegal immigrants and won’t entitle them to Arizona public benefits.

However, it said the policy change “could result in some unlawfully present
aliens inappropriately gaining access to public benefits contrary to the intent
of Arizona voters and lawmakers who enacted laws expressly restricting access to
taxpayer funded benefits and state identification.”

Brewer directed state agencies to start any necessary emergency rulemaking
processes to implement her order.

State Rep. Catherine Miranda, who supports the federal program, called Brewer’s
action mean-spirited.

“She just continues to put obstacles in front of young people in Arizona,”
the Phoenix Democrat said.

Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix, said he questioned whether the order would have
much practical effect under Arizona’s current laws. But he said it served to
demonize good kids who should be allowed to get state-issued identification and
enter the workforce.


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