Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Friday President Barack Obama represents a "pre-emptive strike" aimed at an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court ruling that could uphold parts of the state's immigration enforcement law.
Brewer blasted Mr. Obama's announcement of a new policy allowing some younger illegal immigrants to remain in the United States.
Brewer said the change muddies the waters for implementing the Arizona immigration enforcement law because people covered by the new federal policy can get new documentation.
The Republican governor also said the change means that hundreds of thousands of people will be eligible for work permits and compete with Americans and legal immigrants for jobs
"Most importantly, this act is a preemptive strike against the U.S. Supreme Court and its decision on Senate bill 1070, which may come as early as this Monday," Brewer said.
Speaking from the White House, Mr. Obama said his plan to stop deporting younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children will make the system "more fair, more efficient and more just."
The president said it "makes no sense to expel talented young people" who are essentially Americans. He says he was taking the action in the absence of action by Congress "to fix our broken system."
Under the administration's new plan, illegal immigrants will be immune from deportation if they are under 30 and brought to the U.S. before they turned 16; have been in the country for at least five continuous years; have no criminal history; have graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED; or who have served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed.
Mr. Obama's election-year initiative should help him among Hispanic voters. It will begin granting young immigrants work permits, affecting as many as 800,000 young people who have lived in fear of deportation.
A man in the Rose Garden asked President Obama while he was speaking, "Why do you favor foreigners over American workers?" Mr. Obama responded that "this is the right thing to do."
Many Republicans, including former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, chief sponsor of the state's 2010 immigration enforcement law, said the administration is making an unconstitutional end-run around Congress. Currently president of the Ban Amnesty Now group, Pearce characterized the change as a "backdoor amnesty."
"The effect is just the destruction of the rule of law," Pearce said. "It's a slap in the face to those who come here legally."
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