Arizona’s Jan Brewer denies driver’s licenses to deferred action recipients
Gov. Jan Brewer and President Obama have a history of sparring over immigration.
By EMILY DERUY
Young undocumented immigrants in Arizona who are accepted into President Obama’s deferred action program shouldn’t celebrate quite yet.
Gov. Jan Brewer signed an executive order on Wednesday — the same day the federal government began accepting applications for deferred action — to deny state and local benefits such as driver’s licenses to accepted applicants.
The deferred action program will grant a temporary work permit to accepted applicants, and in some states that is likely to be a stepping stone to a driver’s license. But Brewer says not in Arizona.
The program “does not confer upon them any lawful or authorized status and does not entitle them to any additional public benefit,” reads Brewer’s order.
Brewer, who was behind the state’s controversial SB 1070 immigration law, added that no “taxpayer-funded public benefits” will be granted to deferred action recipients “so that the intent of Arizona voters and lawmakers who enacted laws expressly restricting access to taxpayer funded benefits and state identification are enforced.”
The order drew immediate criticism from immigration activists, who have frequently sparred with Brewer.
“We are saddened that Gov. Brewer is siding with the past, against progress, against young people and the general support the Dream Act has in the general population,” Dulce Matuz, chairman of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, said in a statement.
Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum said it’s up to each state to determine whether they grant driver’s licenses and in-state tuition benefits to undocumented immigrants. Other state benefits are already off-limits he said.
Noorani said it’s in the states’ best interest to provide driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants who qualify for deferred action, since it would spark economic growth. He noted that Georgia, a state that passed an Arizona-style immigration law, has decided to allow deferred action recipients to apply for licenses.
“We are going to hear about young people wanting to start small businesses, but they can’t get there and won’t be able to hire anybody,” he told Univision News. “It’s up to each governor to value this new set of taxpayers. Does Jan Brewer want to prevent a new set of entrepreneurs from creating jobs?”
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas) called the move a “slap in the face” to the immigrant community.
“Gov. Brewer is simply making up rules for the sake of politics and not even considering what makes good economic policy or what is fair and just for productive, dedicated young immigrants,” Gonzalez said in a statement.
This is not the first time Brewer has clashed with Obama over the issue of immigration. From awkward airport tarmac encounters to finger pointing at the White House, Brewer and Obama have had their fair share of run-ins.
And so we bring you…the top three Brewer-Obama moments. Enjoy!
Tension on the tarmac
Brewer met Obama on the tarmac shortly after Obama touched down in Phoenix in January 2012. According to Politico, she hand-delivered a letter to the president before speaking “intensely” to him for several minutes. A picture of her angrily pointing at the president made headlines the next day.
Oval Office exchange
Brewer and Obama had a terse exchange in the Oval Office in June 2010. As ABC reported, Brewer writes in her book, “Scorpions for Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicos to Secure America’s Border,” that Obama was “condescending” during the meeting, which was held to discuss conflict surrounding Arizona’s immigration law and the administration’s immigration policy.
She also complains in the book that her party’s cell phones and cameras were confiscated by Secret Service.
“Too bad we weren’t illegal aliens,” she writes, “or we could have sued them.”
No soup for you
Brewer declined an invitation to attend a White House dinner in honor of the nation’s governors even though she was in Washington, D.C. for the National Governors Association conference in February 2012. According to the Huffington Post, Brewer was overheard telling staffers that she would not attend the dinner because it was a “social” function, but that she would attend a White House meeting because it was “policy” related.