TUCSON, Ariz. -- Governor Jan Brewer issued an executive order Wednesday that bars illegal immigrants granted a temporary reprieve from deportation by the Obama Administration from receiving public benefits or driver's licenses in Arizona.
Immigration lawyers are weighing in on the the latest fight between Arizona and the U.S.
It all comes down to definitions. Under the program, people who were brought here before they were 16 and are now under 31 can apply to stay in the country for two years without being deported.
There are other restrictions; they have to have finished school or be in school. Once approved, they can now obtain a work permit. But does that mean these folks, who’ve been living here illegally, are they are now considered to be here legally?
The governor says no, they are still in the country illegally. So a 2004 voter-approved law barring illegal immigrants from state privileges stands.
Brewer’s spokesman Matt Benson says the Department of Homeland Security simply delayed deportation for two years for those applicants granted the reprieve. It didn’t give those potential 1.7 million recipients an amnesty from being ever deported.
"And, as DHS has told us repeatedly, these individuals who are granted deferred action do not have lawful status. And I believe that's what it says on their web site describing it as well," Benson said.
Tucson immigration lawyer Tarik Sultan says the governor is wrong.
"They are not considered to be here unlawfully present. they are considered to be here in a stay authorized by the attorney general," Sultan said.
The governor’s order will ban the deferred action recipients from receiving public benefits, driver’s licenses or state identification cards.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has said details like driver’s licenses or, whether or not applicants will qualify for in-state tuition at schools is up to each state.
So for now, recipients will eventually be able to work legally in Arizona but they won’t be able to drive there.
ACLU for Arizona Executive Director Alessandra Soler agreed with that.
"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," Soler said in a statement.