Donna Gratehouse, who blogs at Democratic Diva and elsewhere on all things Arizona, sends us this.
Hundreds of activists gathered at the state Capitol Thursday morning in Phoenix to denounce Gov. Jan Brewer for the appalling executive order she issued on Wednesday, which was the day the Obama administration's Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals went into effect. The federal policy change allows the young people known as "DREAM Act kids" or "DREAMers" to stay in the country and apply for work permits provided they meet certain conditions. An estimated 80,000 Arizonans who were brought into the country as children may be eligible for the program, and many have been excitedly lining up at federal immigration offices around the state to get the forms and instructions.
Gov. Brewer simply couldn't let those young people savor the moment and pursue their dream. Her executive order announced that DREAMers would be denied driver's licenses and all forms of state assistance. The order doesn't really do anything at all; it simply reiterates existing policies. Brewer admitted as much at the press conference she held to announce it. "It actually is no different than what is already in place." So why do it? Tucson blogger Ted Prezelski astutely called the move "ridiculous bloviation disguised as action." Brewer is pandering to a very small group in Arizona with this move, as it turns out. While it is true that the majority of Arizonans support immigration enforcement and approved of S.B. 1070, they don't want innocent, young people to be penalized. A poll conducted last April showed the DREAM Act has the support of an astounding 73 percent of Arizona voters.
The DREAM Act press conference featured community and elected leaders condemning Brewer's mean-spirited executive order and was followed by a group of DREAMers marching up to Brewer's office to ask to meet with her. It was largely symbolic since Brewer does not make herself available to constituents who may disagree with her as a general rule. The DREAMers were accompanied by several reporters hoping to ask the governor some questions, which was also an exercise in futility since Brewer never speaks to reporters in anything other than carefully staged interviews. The governor's office craves national attention, and this executive order is typical of the kind of stunt they pull to guarantee Brewer softball spots on Fox News and right-wing radio stations so she can hawk her ghostwritten "memoir" Scorpions for Breakfast. Still, many DREAM Act advocates feel their movement got good exposure from the press conference and attempted confrontation with the governor, despite their disappointment at her spiteful behavior toward them.
The Arizona Democratic Party called Brewer's executive order a "gubernatorial temper tantrum" and "nothing more than an empty gesture" meant to impress "Tea Party extremists." Democrats believe these types of actions will motivate Latino voters against Republicans in the upcoming election. Some of the speakers at Thursday's press conference were Democratic candidates for office.
There may be an interesting legal twist in this latest Obama/Brewer kerfuffle. The Arizona American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says there could be legal grounds to challenge some of the governor's edicts denying things like driver's licenses and in-state tuition to young people eligible for the deferred action. "This order conflicts with state and federal law because people who are granted deferred action will, in fact, have authorized presence in the United States, and under Arizona law, people who have authorized presence are eligible to apply for Arizona state identification," said Arizona ACLU Executive Director Alexandra Soler, in a statement the group released yesterday.