Another states vs. federal government showdown heats up.
The state of Nebraska is following the lead of the state of Arizona in announcing that, in the Cornhusker State, illegal aliens that qualify for deferred action under President Obama’s recent administrative amnesty will not qualify for in-state tuition, welfare benefits, or a driver’s license.
Governor David Heinman, Nebraska’s Republican governor, issued this terse statement announcing his state’s plans last Friday.
President Obama’s deferred action program to issue employment authorization documents to illegal immigrants does not make them legal citizens. The State of Nebraska will continue its practice of not issuing driver’s licenses, welfare benefits or other public benefits to illegal immigrants unless specifically authorized by Nebraska statute.
Earlier in the week, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer became the first governor in the nation to announce that her state would not grant welfare, in-state tuition, or driver’s licenses to any illegal alien that qualifies for the President’s new administrative amnesty program. The executive order announced by President Obama on June 15 accomplishes administratively what he and his Democratic allies couldn’t accomplish legislatively through the DREAM Act.
As the [Department of Homeland Security] has said repeatedly ... these individuals do not have lawful status," Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson told the Arizona Republic in announcing his boss’s executive order. "They are able to remain in the country and not be deported, and not be prosecuted, but they do not have lawful status.
According to Jessica Vaughan, policy analyst with the Center for Immigration Studies, both Brewer and Heinman’s announcements shows the limits of President Obama’s proposal in July.
On June 15 of this year, President Obama stood in the Rose Garden and announced that he was ordering the Department of Homeland Security to grant deferred action status to anyone here illegally that came to the United States with their parents before the age of 15. These individuals must be thirty years of age and younger and have a clean criminal record, according to the announcement.
While the announcement occurred in July, US Citizen and Immigration Services, the agency tasked with granting these deferred actions, then announced that the program wouldn’t go into effect until August 15. Since that day, most USCIS offices have seen overflowing lines with so-called "DREAMers" lining up to take advantage of the President’s administrative amnesty.
While Brewer and Heinman’s decisions have been cheered by proponents of tough anti-illegal immigration policies, those that support illegal aliens have condemned the actions as mean spirited. The pro-illegal alien group Immigration Impact, wrote on August 16 that Brewer’s executive order was mean spirited and counter-productive.
Brewer claimed to have Arizona’s best interests at heart when she announced her decision to block beneficiaries of deferred action from getting a driver’s license or receiving public benefits. Otherwise, she claimed, the onslaught of new applicants for benefits and licenses would have "significant and lasting impacts on the Arizona budget, its health care system and additional public benefits that Arizona taxpayers fund."
Vaughan said that it remains unclear exactly how Obama’s new policy will play out. While it grants a two-year temporary legal status along with a work permit, it doesn’t make the status of anyone eligible legal. Furthermore, said Vaughan, by applying for the program, illegal aliens are announcing to the government that they are in the country illegally. By providing the government with personal information and details, they open themselves up to being tracked down and deported more easily down the road when a new president with a different view of illegal immigration comes into office.
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