Arizona is once again at the center of the immigration debate.
Gov. Jan Brewer's executive order to deny any and all benefits to illegal immigrants has sparked a new controversy.
Brewer's order came yesterday, the same day the federal government kicked off a new deferred action program which allows young illegal immigrants a chance to get a work permit.
Regina Jefferies is the president of the Arizona chapter of American Immigration Lawyers.
She told CBS5 that the governor's executive order conflicts with state law, especially when it comes to issuing driver's licenses.
Right now someone can obtain an Arizona driver's license by showing two or three pieces of proper ID, and a legal work authorization card is on the list.
"These individuals granted deferred action are lawfully present authorized by the attorney general, and for that reason under Arizona law they are eligible to apply for, and receive a driver's license as long as they can present documentation required by the state," said Jefferies.
The Executive Director of Arizona's ACLU, Allesandra Soler, went a step further.
Soler said that if someone in the deferred action program is given a work permit, and is then denied an Arizona driver's license, it's a potential violation of state and federal law.
Soler released this statement:
"This is yet another reason why Arizona has no business trying to regulate immigration matters. 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."
The governor was in Prescott Thursday. She told CBS5 that it's her job to uphold the law and that is what she is doing.
Arizona's Department of Transportation released this statement:
"Because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has just issued new guidance for the immigration process, the Arizona Department of Transportation is just beginning the process of reviewing and interpreting these guidelines.
"To obtain an Arizona driver license or identification card, Arizona law requires proof of identity, age and lawful presence under federal law to be in the United States, and it has since 1996.
"ADOT continues to exercise its discretion on the documents to prove identity, age and lawful presence. Here is a list of documents that may be used by the department to establish identity, age and lawful presence as required by federal law."
Copyright 2012 KPHO. (Meredith Corporation) All rights reserved.
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