9 On Your Side Immigration Watch
"No drivers license for you", says Gov
Arizona has found another way to defy the feds, but Governor Brewer says she's just enforcing state law.
Reporter: Tammy Vo
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - One day after a controversial decision by Governor Jan Brewer, KGUN 9 wanted to find out how it will affect millions of young immigrants as well as state agencies like the Arizona Department of Transportation.
On Wednesday, Governor Brewer ordered state agencies to deny driver's licenses and other public benefit programs to young illegal immigrants who are applying for federal work permits under a new Obama Administration policy. That policy also went into effect Wednesday. But Governor Brewer insists, she's just enforcing state law. But critics say, she's twisting state law.
"We will issue an employment authorization card to those people that apply, but they will not be entitled to a driver's license, nor will they be entitled to any public benefits in response to the public overwhelmingly voting that no public benefits would be extended to illegal aliens in the State of Arizona" said Governor Brewer.
Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona said ""Brewer is distorting federal law and inaccurately interpreting state law. This order conflicts with state and federal law because 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. She is perpetuating the myth that deferred action applicants are somehow submitting fraudulent documents and that is completely false. Not only is she singling out young people who are eligible for deferred action, but she also is excluding other categories of non-citizens who are authorized to be in the country, including victims of domestic violence, from obtaining state-identification while their immigration applications are being processed."
KGUN 9 met Jose Rojas, a high school senior in Tucson who is now speaking about about his Mexican roots and his American dream. "I've been here since I was 5 but I was basically raised here and I've never gone back to Mexico. Basically I was born here. My dream is to join the military" said Rojas. He showed KGUN 9 his Mexican drivers license which won't be valid, long-term, in the U.S. Rojas plans on applying for the President's new deferral program and would like to get a U.S. drivers license, but won't be able to if Governor Brewer's order stands. Rojas wonders, if he and millions of other immigrants get legal work status, how they'll even get to work if they can't drive?
So, what does the Governor's order mean for state agencies like ADOT? Will ADOT consider immigrants who have legal status under the deferral program "sufficient" documentation to receive an AZ drivers license? ADOT did not return KGUN 9's request for answers to those questions on Thursday.