08/21/2012 08:52 pm ET Updated Aug 22, 2012

Jan Brewer Defends Executive Order Denying Benefits To Young Undocumented Immigrants

Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday that her decision to deny benefits to undocumented immigrants was justified, claiming that federal law is at fault in the immigration debate.

"I think everybody in Arizona [and] across the country has compassion for those children that have been brought here illegally by their parents," Brewer said. "But it is not our responsibility. It is their parents' responsibility. They need to follow the law."

Last week, Brewer signed an executive order denying state and local benefits to undocumented immigrants applying under President Obama's new deferred action program. Brewer's order also barred immigrants from applying for driver's licenses and state-issued identification cards.

Brewer's order, signed on the same day that the federal deferred action program went into effect, was immediately met with massive backlash. DREAM Act supporters organized protests at Brewer's office, while organizations like the ACLU blasted the governor for "distorting federal law." However, she was unfazed by the criticism, instead doubling down on her crusade against undocumented immigration.

"It's an unfortunate situation, but certainly something that needs to be addressed, and I believe it's the federal government that needs to address that, and they need to do it by changing the law, and they need to work through the Congress and do what they need to do in order to rectify what has taken place," Brewer said.

She continued: "I believe people ought to be here legally and they ought to be here with a lawful presence."

The deferred action program, which Obama announced during a June 15 press conference, allows the children of undocumented immigrants to apply for work authorization and reprieve from deportation. About 1.7 million individuals are estimated to be eligible for the program.



Controversial Immigration Laws