By David Schwartz
PHOENIX, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer, in yet another clash with the White House, issued an order on Wednesday barring undocumented immigrants who qualify for temporary legal status in the United States from receiving any state or local public benefits.
The action was a response to relaxed deportation rules issued by the Obama administration on Wednesday.
Brewer, whose state has been at the center of the country's immigration debate, issued an executive order denying state or local benefits to immigrants applying under the new federal immigration rules. The order would bar them from obtaining an Arizona driver's license or a state-issued identification card.
As many as 1.7 million people could qualify for the temporary federal program, which enables certain undocumented immigrants to apply for work permits, Social Security cards and driver's licenses, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
Applying for "deferred action for child arrivals" permits will shield some young undocumented immigrants from being ousted from the United States for at least two years. In Arizona, officials said an estimated 80,000 undocumented immigrants were eligible to apply.
To qualify, recipients must have been younger than 16 years old upon arrival; currently not older than 30; have lived in the country since June 15, 2007; and have no felony convictions.
Thousands of eager, young undocumented students swamped immigration offices in states with large immigrant populations like California and Texas on Wednesday.
Brewer wrote in the order that the new program "does not confer upon them any lawful or authorized status and does not entitle them to any additional public benefits."
She said she was reaffirming the intent of current Arizona laws, and preventing "significant and lasting impacts on the Arizona budget, its health care system and additional public benefits that Arizona taxpayers fund."
Arizona passed a tough immigration crackdown in 2010 to try to drive undocumented immigrants from the state. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld its most controversial provision requiring police to check the immigration status of people they stop if they suspect they are in the country illegally. The law has yet to be implemented.
Carlos Garcia, director of the grassroots community group Puente in Phoenix, called the governor's move on Wednesday a "mean-spirited attack" on a well-meaning program.
"Brewer has once again put Arizona's name on the map as the epicenter of anti-immigrant racism and hate," Garcia said in a statement. "However, like we have continuously showed throughout her time as governor, the community will stand united against Brewer's latest assault." (Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Stacey Joyce)
The Template: California Proposition 187 (1994)
California's Proposition 187 was submitted to the voters with the full support of then Republican governor Pete Wilson. It essentially blamed undocumented immigrants for the poor performance of the state economy in the early 1990s. The law called for cutting off benefits to undocumented immigrants: prohibiting their access to health care, public education, and other social services in California. It also required state authorities to report anyone who they suspected was undocumented. <strong>Status:</strong> The law passed with the support of 55 percent of the voters in 1994 but declared unconstitutional 1997. The law was killed in 1999 when a new governor, Democrat Gray Davis, refused to appeal a judicial decision that struck down most of the law. Even though short-lived, the legislation paved the way for harsher immigration laws to come. On the other hand, the strong reaction from the Hispanic community and immigration advocates propelled a drive for naturalization of legal residents and created as many as one million new voters.
The Worst: Arizona SB 1070
The Arizona Act made it a misdemeanor for an undocumented immigrant to be within the state lines of Arizona without legal documents allowing their presence in the U.S. This law has been widely criticized as xenophobic and for encouraging racial profiling. It requires state authorities to inquire about an individual's immigration status during an arrest when there is "reasonable suspicion" that the individual is undocumented. The law would allow police to detain anyone who they believe was in the country illegally. <strong>Status:</strong> The law was signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010. But it has generated a swirl of controversy and questions about its constitutionality. A federal judge issued a ruling that blocked what critics saw as some of the law's harshest provisions. House: 35-31 (4/12/2011)
Following Arizona's Footsteps: Georgia HB 87
The controversy over Arizona's immigration law was followed by heated debate over Georgia's own law. HB 87 required government agencies and private companies to check the immigration status of applicants. This law also limited some government benefits to people who could prove their legal status. <strong>Status:</strong> Although a federal judge temporarily blocked parts of the law considered too extreme, it went into effect on July 1st. 2011. House: 113-56 Senate: 39-17
Verifying Authorized Workers: Pennsylvania HB 1502
This bill, which was approved in 2010, bans contractors and subcontractors employ undocumented workers from having state construction contracts. The bill also protects employees who report construction sites that hire illegal workers. To ensure that contractors hire legal workers, the law requires employers to use the identification verification system E-verify, based on a compilation of legally issued Social Security numbers. <strong>Status:</strong> Approved on June 8th 2010. House: 188-6 (07/08/2010) <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/" target="_hplink">Flickr photo by DonkeyHotey</a>
A Spin Off of Arizona: Utah HB 497
Many states tried to emulate Arizona's SB 1070 law. However, most state legislatures voted against the proposals. Utah's legislature managed to approve an immigration law based on a different argument. Taking into consideration the criticism of racial profiling in Arizona, Utah required ID cards for "guest workers" and their families. In order to get such a card workers must pay a fee and have clean records. The fees go up to $2,500 for immigrants who entered the country illegally and $1,000 for immigrants who entered the country legally but were not complying with federal immigration law, <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2011/mar/06/nation/la-na-illegal-immigration-20110306" target="_hplink">according to the LA Times.</a> <strong>Status: </strong> Law went into effect on 03/15/2011 House: 59-15 (03/04/2011) Senate: 22-5 (03/04/2011)
The Most Comprehensive: Florida HB-1C
Florida's immigration law prohibits any restrictions on the enforcement of federal immigration law. It makes it unlawful for undocumented immigrants within the state to apply for work or work as an independent contractor. It forbids employers from hiring immigrants if they are aware of their illegal status and requires work applicants to go through the E-verify system in order to check their Social Security number. <strong>Status: </strong>effective since October 1st, 2010
The Hot Seat: Alabama HB 56
The new immigration law in Alabama is considered the toughest in the land, even harder than Arizona's SB 1070. It prohibits law enforcement officers from releasing an arrested person before his or her immigration status is determined. It does not allow undocumented immigrants to receive any state benefit, and prohibits them from enrolling in public colleges, applying for work or soliciting work in a public space. The law also prohibits landlords from renting property to undocumented immigrants, and employers from hiring them. It requires residents to prove they are citizens before they become eligible to vote. The law asked every school in the state to submit an annual report with the number of presumed undocumented students, but this part, along with others, were suspended by federal courts. <strong>Status:</strong> Approved June 2nd, 2011 House: 73-28 (04/05/2011) Senate: 23-11 (05/05/2011) <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/longislandwins/" target="_hplink">Flickr photo by longislandwins</a>