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Activists criticize Gov. Brewer’s expansion on license ban

PHOENIX — Immigrant rights activists are outraged over Gov. Jan Brewer’s expansion of a ban on driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.

The ban now includes anyone who has been given a reprieve from deportation, regardless of the reason.

Phoenix Attorney Daniel Ortega said the ban’s expansion hurts a lot of people.

“The governor decided that she would also ban victims of crime and abused women from being able to secure driver’s licenses,” he said.

Ortega called the move a “vindictive response” to a lawsuit that was filed to stop any ban on illegal immigrants getting driver’s licenses.

“She wanted to win the lawsuit,” he said. “And to do so, she would have to punish the most vulnerable among us.”

During a press conference at the Arizona Capitol Building Friday, other activists lashed out at Brewer.

“Gov. Brewer just gave us another example of how her Tea Party extremist politics are completely, completely divorced from Arizona values,” said Beto Soto of the group Citizens for a Better Arizona.

Activist Alfredo Gutierrez said the ban affects young people who have lived their entire lives here in America after being brought to the country illegally by their parents.

“If any violations or crimes were committed, it was by their parents,” he said.

Gutierrez said the expansion also victimizes other people.

“The victims of domestic violence are innocent,” he said. “The victims of crime are innocent. Why she would extend this to the innocent, I think the guidance could only be found in the heart.”

Gutierrez thinks he knows what’s in Brewer’s heart.

“There’s anger there, there’s bitterness there, there’s hate there,” he said, adding that he believes Brewer’s decision was influenced by her own personal political aspirations, though he didn’t say what those might be.

State Sen. Steve Gallardo wants Brewer to change her mind and reverse the expansion.

“We call on the governor to do the right thing,” he said. “Let’s stand with those victims of domestic violence. Let’s stand with those victims involved with sex trafficking. Let’s stand with those victims that are innocent.”

Gallardo also called on all Arizona candidates for governor to take a stand on the issue.