Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a bulwark in the conservative fight for stricter immigration policies, issued an order on Wednesday denying benefits to youth immigrants covered under recent changes to federal deportation laws.
The executive order, which was issued the same day that changes to federal immigration law went into effect, will deny all local and state benefits to young immigrations eligible under the new "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" law.
The new law allows some young immigrants present in the U.S. illegally to defer deportation for up to two years. Some also may apply for a work permit through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
"The issuance of Deferred Action or Deferred Action USCIS employment authorization documents to unlawfully present aliens does not confer upon them any lawful or authorized status and does not entitle them to any additional public benefit," the executive order stated.
The order specifically denies driver's licenses to be obtained by those covered under the new law.
Brewer, who has been at the center of the immigration debate since she assumed office in January 2009, added she undertook the step to avoid "significant and lasting impacts on the Arizona budget, its health care system and additional public benefits that Arizona taxpayers fund."
Under the policy, announced by President Obama in mid-June, immigrant children who came to the U.S. under the age of 16 and who have lived here for at least five years will be able to seek a stay on deportation for two years. If under the age of 30, the immigrant in question can also obtain a work permit.
In addition to having come to the U.S. at the appropriate age, the youth in question needs to have received some education or acted as a member of the military and not have committed any felonies or serious misdemeanors while in the United States.
The policy opens up the possibility to live openly in the U.S. - at least temporarily - for up to 1.7 million illegal immigrants, according to the Pew Research Center. The majority of these youth live in California. Around 80,000 immigrants in Arizona are applicable as well, Brewer said.
Arizona has become infamous for enacting some of the most stringent immigration laws in U.S. history in Brewer's two-year tenure. In 2010, the state passed a law allowing police to pull over people they suspected of being in the country illegally.
While rights groups said the law amounted to legalized racial profiling, the Supreme Court upheld this aspect of the 2010 state law this June. However, the law, although passed, has not been implemented.
First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan group advocacy group for improved child public policy, on Thursday tweeted "Gov. Jan Brewer bars public benefits for DREAMers...So disappointing."
by RTT Staff Writer
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