“Dreamers” walked to the Arizona state capitol after Governor Jan Brewer said she would block Dreamers from receiving benefits under the new deferred deportation. (Photo/AP Images )

Arizona immigration activists vow to block Brewer’s ban on benefits for undocumented youth

Dreamers in Arizona are worried over Gov. Jan Brewer’s executive order banning undocumented youth applying for deferred action from receiving state-issued drivers licenses and other public benefits.  Brewer’s office explained that while Dreamers who obtain temporary status cannot be deported, they do not have ‘lawful status.’

“There was a lot of worry after Brewer’s executive order,” says Petra Falcón, from the organization Promise Arizona. “The driver’s license issue is significant; if Dreamers get a work permit, how will they get to work without a license?” Falcón adds.

Brewer’s action also impacted news out of Maricopa County Community Colleges. Initially the institution had announced that Dreamers who obtained the temporary deferred status could apply for in-state tuition, which is significantly less than out-of-state tuition. After Brewer’s announcement, the community colleges said they would have to review its earlier decision.

Legal groups, however, brushed off Brewer’s attempts to block the benefits of deferred deportation.

“People who are granted deferred action will, in fact, have authorized presence in the United States – and under Arizona law people who have authorized presence are eligible to apply for Arizona state identification,” said Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona.

Thomas Saenz, President and General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), agrees, saying Brewer is clearly wrong under both federal and state law.

“Jan Brewer seems intent on taking more taxpayer resources to defend unlawful policies; she clearly can’t get good legal advice,” says Saenz.

Arizona Democratic Party Executive Luis Heredia was even more blunt about Governor Brewer’s actions. “This amounts to a gubernatorial temper tantrum,” he said in a statement.

Arizona Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva said today, “When 73 percent of Arizonans support the DREAM Act, you can’t even accuse her of playing politics. She’s just being herself, hurting our economy and pulling families apart to please a small minority of the population,” he said.

In the meantime, Promise Arizona’s Petra Falcón says Arizona ‘Dreamers’ should continue to get all their documentation ready to apply for deferred deportation.

“All the safeguards are in place; Dreamers should complete their applications carefully, get them checked, and continue the process,” says Falcón. About Brewer’s executive order, Falcón had a simple answer.

“We’ll fight back,” she says.

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