Illegal immigrants who got temporary reprieve from deportation through a Deferred Action program announced in June by the Obama administration shouldn't expect to enjoy the same benefits as those in legal status in Arizona.
That's because Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed on Wednesday an executive order to close off any taxpayer-funded public benefits and state identification services to people who are not in legal status.
Brewer noted in the executive order that the Deferred Action program does not give legal status to illegal aliens and that current Arizona laws do not provide for them to gain from public benefits.
"The issuance of Deferred Action or Deferred Action USCIS employment authorization documents to unlawfully present aliens does not confer upon them any lawful or authorized status and does not entitle them to any public benefit," the order read, making a reference to the federal agency that handles immigration, USCIS.
President Barack Obama's administration announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in June as a temporary solution for undocumented immigrants living in the country. Under the program, illegals can avoid deportation and get work permits. However, the administration has made it clear that Deferred Action does not overrun national immigration laws.
It has been estimated that approximately a million undocumented immigrants could qualify for the two-year reprieve, which carries a $465 application fee. Many started seeking the temporary fix this week. However, qualifying for the program isn't as easy as one might think. The undocumented immigrants need to show the government that they are eligible, providing documentation proving arrival in the United State prior to turning 16. They must also have been living in the country for the past five years and have no criminal record, among other criteria.
Brewer's clampdown is a blow to tens of thousands of illegal immigrants who may have been looking to access public benefits and health care after the reprieve was granted.
By Brewer's estimate, if 80,000 illegals should get improper access to any state or local public benefits, it could affect Arizona's budget, health care and other taxpayer-funded benefits.
With that in mind, Brewer has directed state agencies to implement what she calls "emergency rule making" to ensure that no one slips through the cracks.
The U.S. Supreme Court stepped in back in June to overturn parts of Arizona's controversial SB1070 immigration law. However, the court did rule that state police can ask people about their immigration status under certain circumstances.