Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Signs Executive Order Against DREAM Act

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer can’t seem to get enough of the national spotlight, from proposing a law a few months ago to ban Planned Parenthood to signing an executive order this week that instructs state officials to deny driver’s licenses and other benefits to undocumented immigrants protected under President Barack Obama’s DREAM Act, also known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

The program allows for some documented immigrants who were brought into the US illegally as children (and who meet certain requirements) to obtain temporary waivers from deportation and allow them to get work permits, reports The Los Angeles Times.

The federal government began accepting applications for the program on Wednesday, and up to 1.7 million students and military veterans may qualify for it. Brewer’s spokesman states that President Obama, “doesn’t have the authority to snap his fingers and grant lawful status or lawful presence to people here unlawfully. That’s not possible.”

NBC News notes that Brewer’s order stated:

“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.”

Evelyn Cruz, an Arizona State University clinical law professor and director of the Immigration Law Policy Clinic, believes that Jan Brewer’s executive order could conflict with federal statuses, because of laws like the REAL ID Act of 2005, which is a federal law modifying requirements for state driver’s licenses and ID cars, specifically listing immigrants who have been granted “deferred action” as those eligible for licenses.

Regina Jefferies a Phoenix immigration lawyer and chair of the Arizona chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, added that Brewer’s order conflicts with state and federal laws. Jefferies stated:

“For something this significant I would not be surprised if there were multiple groups that end up challenging this order. Brewer quoted the correct statute but problem is the state laws interchangeably use ‘legal status’ and ‘lawful presence’ like they mean the same thing. They don’t. They mean very different things under federal immigration law. The state of Arizona has regularly issued licenses to people lawfully present in the U.S. even though they don’t have lawful status.”

Do you think that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was within her rights to deny illegal immigrants in her state from getting a driver’s license and receiving other benefits, despite the fact that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act, a federal law, requires the state to provide them?