Gov. Jan Brewer has been described as being anti-Latino, credited with making Arizona an international laughingstock and embarrassing our state with her performance as governor and her ideological stands. We count ourselves among her critics when it comes to immigration and border issues.
Brewer's decision last week to undercut a presidential order that protects, in renewable two-year increments, young immigrants who were brought, as children, into the country illegally does nothing to change our opinion. It is classic Brewer - a move that boosts her political profile among hard-line Republicans while, at the same time, ignoring the real-life consequences of her actions.
And, just for good measure, her executive order cements Arizona's reputation as being on the wrong side of justice and equality.
President Obama issued an order that gives young immigrants the ability to get federal work permits, provided they meet specific requirements. They must be under 30, have been brought into the country before they turned 16, be in school or have graduated from high school, or earned a GED or an honorable discharge from the U.S. military.
The first applications were taken on Wednesday, and across the country young people lined up. In Arizona, however, Brewer issued an executive order prohibiting state agencies from providing state services to anyone approved for the deferment.
Obama's plan does not grant citizenship to these young people, and they're not given full legal status. But they are afforded "lawful presence," according to immigration attorney Regina Jefferies, who is quoted in a story by Howard Fischer in the Star. Brewer, of course, disagrees with this interpretation.
The applicants aren't entitled to benefits such as food stamps, according Fischer's report, but those who receive approval for a federal work permit will be in the country with permission.
Brewer's order includes the Motor Vehicle Division, and under her interpretation, these young immigrants won't be able to use their federal work permits to apply for a driver's license - even though other immigrants have under other circumstances.
Brewer's rationale does not hold up when it comes to driver's licenses. She offered the these-illegal-people-will-cost-the-state-money excuse, but she fails to see the economic benefit that comes from bright and productive people being allowed to work. Arizona needs their talents and buying power, and the tax revenue that comes with it.
She also fails to see that making life difficult for these young people - many of whom were brought here as small children and know no home other than the United States - does not benefit Arizona. It punishes children for the actions of their parents. She may win raves from her fans, but her executive order only ensures that the state will spend money fighting this issue in court.
Brewer may solidify her base with this move, but she's also solidifying Arizona's image as a backward state that views children not as the the innocents they are, but as lawbreakers.
Arizona Daily Star