A Dreamer is an undocumented immigrant under the age of 31 who was brought to the USA as a child and has lived here for at least five years. Under a June administrative order by the Obama administration, Dreamers who have graduated from high school or college, and who are not a threat to the United States, can apply for temporary relief from immediate deportation via “deferred action,” a form of legal and time-tested prosecutorial discretion.
(According to the office of Gov. Jan Brewer, about 80,000 Dreamers live in Arizona. About 1.7 million Dreamers live in the United States.)
On Aug. 15, Dreamers began applying for their two-year reprieve. If they pass musteristrative directive issued by Presdient Barack Obama will be given work papers and Social Security cards by the federal government. They will be able to work and pay taxes to the federal government and the state of Arizona. But Gov. Jan Brewer believes they should not drive to work, and wants to bar them from getting driver licenses.
This is part of her executive order, issued on Aug. 15, the day the Obama directive took effect. The order also says Dreamers can’t get state-funded benefits — like unemployment or being licensed by the state. (Dreamers don’t qualify for federal benefits, like Medicaid or Food Stamps, except in rare, rare circumstances. That’s thanks to federal, not state, law.)
Most of Brewer’s executive order simply parrots existing law, but there is one part of the order that is the subject of a heated legal debate — the driver license part. Dreamers say they need to be able to drive to work in a sprawling metropolis like the Phoenix metro area, with limited public transportation.
But it looks as Dreamers may get to drive after all, despite the governor’s executive order that they should be denied licenses. The reason: Experts say the governor confused legal terms, and because of this her executive order may have contradicted state law.
I wrote about the arguments, and talked to Brewer’s spokesman, for an article that ran this morning in The Daily Beast.
Watching the television coverage and listening to pundits on the radio, I’m a little stunned at the degree of misinformation coming from both sides.
Azcvoices.com is a network of community bloggers created by The Arizona Republic, azcentral.com and 12 News to highlight diverse viewpoints. Members' opinions do not represent the views of Republic Media.
Bio: Journalist Terry Greene Sterling has lived in Arizona most of her life, and has reported on the political brawls and human tragedies that have long made Arizona the focus of national news. She was raised on an Arizona cattle ranch, and learned to speak Spanish at the same time she learned English. The author of Illegal, Life and Death in Arizona's Immigration War Zone, Sterling has been honored with more than 50 national and regional journalism awards. She was named Virg Hill Journalist of the Year, Arizona’s highest journalism honor, three times. She was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times for 14 years before branching out on her own. She is a contributor for The Daily Beast, and Writer-in-Residence at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, Newsweek.com, Salon.com, Rollingstone.com, The Nieman Narrative Digest, Phoenix Magazine, The Arizona Republic, Arizona Highways, High Country News, and Preservation Magazine. She tweets @tgsterling and blogs about immigration in Arizona at terrygreenesterling.com.