PHOENIX - Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed an executive order directing state agencies to deny driver's licenses and other public benefits to young illegal immigrants who obtain work authorizations under a new Obama administration program.
Brewer's order issued Wednesday says she's reaffirming the intent of current Arizona law denying taxpayer-funded public benefits and state identification to illegal immigrants.
Young illegal immigrants could start applying Wednesday with the federal government for work permits under the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
The program defers deportations for young illegal immigrants if they meet certain criteria.
Brewer's order says the program's federal paperwork doesn't confer lawful status on illegal immigrants and won't entitle them to Arizona public benefits.
have to do what I've been sworn to do and that's uphold the law and execute it
as it's been written and that's what we're doing today," Brewer said at a press conference.
She directs state agencies to start emergency rulemaking processes as necessary to implement her order.
After that announcement, dozens marched to the capitol Wednesday night, upset with Brewer's executive order.
But immigration attorney Jose Penalosa says he fully expects the Obama administration to trump Brewer. He believes those approved for deferred action will eventually be allowed to get drivers licenses.
"So I believe the Obama administration's going to come out and say we're changing the notes and our tones of our directive, and say these kids are here under color of law and protected by U.S. immigration laws and due process, and/or they have a specific non-visa immigrant category that allows them to have a driver's license," said Penalosa.
Penalosa says the test will likely come in October or November when the first person is approved through deferred action.
"If the governor backs down great, if not, once a student has a driver's license and state denies then the federal government can sue them in federal court."
"I was stunned she had to take such a happy day and ruin it," said undocumented immigrant Eder Rosas. "I have faith in Obama, I know he's going to do the right thing and he is a man of justice."
An estimated 80,000 people in Arizona will be affected by the new federal program that defers deportation for young undocumented immigrants.
Statement by Puente Human Rights Movement
"Once again, Gov. Jan Brewer has stood on the wrong side of history by implementing anti-immigrant policies and directly contradicting federal mandates related to immigration. Earlier today, she issued an Executive Order blocking Deferred Action recipients from receiving public benefits or driver's licenses. By taking public action against President Obama's policy that will potentially grant work permits to over one million undocumented young people, Brewer has once again put Arizona's name on the map as the epicenter of anti-immigrant racism and hate. However, like we have continuously showed throughout her time as governor, the community will stand united against Brewer's latest assault on our community."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.