In what is being seen in some quarters as a slap in the face to President Obama, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer late Wednesday issued an executive order affirming that Obama’s limited amnesty for illegal immigrants does not alter Arizona law, which bars them from receiving driver’s licenses or state benefits.
The order doesn’t change Arizona law. But coming on the very day Obama’s new policy goes into effect, it sends a defiant message to the White House.
Brewer and Obama have had a rocky relationship that has put them at loggerheads over Arizona’s tough immigration laws.
Brewer said in a book that Obama was condescending to her during an Oval Office meeting. The two appear to have had an altercation on the tarmac just after Obama got off Air Force One during a January 2012 visit to Arizona.
Brewer insists that her action Wednesday was merely an attempt to clarify Arizona law amid the “chaos” she said has been brought by Obama’s policy.
“Because of the order by the Obama administration, by President Obama, to proceed with this amnesty program that started today, there were questions about what the agencies were going to do,” she said. “So we just made it perfectly clear so that there woud be no misunderstanding.”
Obama’s policy, created by an executive order of his own, forces the federal government stop deporting undocumented immigrants under 30 who came to the United States before they turned 16 and allows them to apply for work permits.
It amounts to an end run around Congress, which has refused to pass the Obama-backed DREAM Act that would create a path toward citizenship for young illegal immigrants who have gone to college or served in the military.
But the Obama order is temporary, only allowing deportation to be deferred for two years.
Brewer’s action Wednesday has sparked protests in Arizona and demands that Obama make his partial amnesty permanent.