As President Obama hailed the "extraordinary contributions" undocumented youth will make to our society, stressing his executive order for a temporary halt of deportations of immigrant youth was neither "amnesty" nor "a path to permanent citizenship," Gov. Jan Brewer hunkered down in the Arizona state capital with her own views on "Obama's Amnesty Plan."
Never one to miss out on opportunities to tangle with the president, Brewer emerged within minutes of the White House press conference today and charged Obama with making an "outrageous" announcement of "backdoor amnesty" and a preemptive attack on the Supreme Court's forthcoming ruling on Arizona's SB 1070 immigration law. Brewer called out Obama for "political pandering," and said the nation needed to keep the focus on securing the border where "smugglers operate freely."
Not all Arizonans agreed with Brewer.
"I'm amazed she called this amnesty," said Dulce Matuz, founder of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, and selected by Time Magazine over Brewer as one of the "most influential people in the world. "I can't believe she wants to continue punishment of children for something they didn't do. The United States is a country that should make morally right decisions and this is one of them. If the Republicans believe in family unity, how can they not support this. "
Noting economic benefits of the DREAM ACT and immigration, especially in the field of engineering and business innovation, Matuz, who graduated from the ASU engineering program, added: "We have DREAM Act students who are going to engineering, nursing and so many other fields we are not taking advantage of."
"This is not an amnesty plan but an opportunity plan," said Randy Parraz, with Citizens for a Better Arizona. "An opportunity to work and contribute without being fearful of being deported."
Former Democratic state senate leader, Alfredo Gutierrez, added:
Arizona's Governor Brewer declared President Obama's executive action allowing Dream Act eligible students to stay and work in the United States as a "preemtive strike against S.B.1070". The Governor expects S.B.1070 to be upheld and anticipates that as early as Monday the police can began asking those who appear reasonably suspicious of being "illegal" for their appropriate papers. Her obvious disappointment is that by "executive fiat" the president is providing documentation to perhaps a million youngsters. The dragnet she envisioned covering the entire state will now be "complicated" by kids with papers. She was especially upset that the president's action goes into effect immediately.
She rambled on about her concern about the dangers of the border and the need to secure it but it was obvious her major concern is that the spectacle of cops taking away thousands of brown folk and delivering them into the hands of an eager ICE that she relished will now be compromised and minimized.
According to James Garcia, with the Arizona Latino Research Enterprise in Phoenix:
The Governor's position on the announcement speaks to her inability to understand the nation not only needs the Dream Act to address a sliver of the problems involving immigration that face the US, but work toward a broad consensus on the needs of immigrants. The solutions to immigration really are about addressing realities on the ground, as far as the lives of immigrants are concerned, and also about addressing the tangible needs our country has for immigrants working at every level of the economy.
Long-time Tucson educator and TUSD schoolboard candidate, Kristel Ann Foster noted:
The most powerful part of Obama's statement today is the best response to Gov. Brewer, "to expel these kids because of the actions of their parents, the inaction of politicians, is wrong." Misrepresenting his statement, trying to taint it with the buzzword 'amnesty' before he even spoke, wreaks of the kind of politics Obama is referring to. I couldn't agree with the president more, these students have been in my classroom, on our playgrounds, integrated into our lives. They are Americans, and it causes us all social and economic harm to deport them. Like our President said, it's time to do the right thing.
In a released statement, US Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) addressed President Obama's plan:
"This is a sensible solution that allows us, as a national community, to help hundreds of thousands of young adolescents trapped in legal limbo. This is a wonderful day for them, their families, and the many millions of us who believe in fairness and opportunity. I applaud President Obama's decision to extend the American dream to a new generation of deserving individuals.
"Those with deep roots in the United States who have contributed immensely to our country's well-being will -- at long last -- be taken out of the deportation pool so we can concentrate our resources on real threats and serious criminals. This makes our nation safer and upholds our nation's commitment to fairness and justice.
"While this change is not a permanent solution, it is a major step in the right direction. The rhetoric of division and marginalizing of people by Mitt Romney and the Republican party needs to end. We are past the point of obstruction. We need to solve the problem. This action by President Obama will move us forward together as a country and as a single American people."