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UPDATE: At least one U.S. governor is pushing back against President Obama's new policy allowing some illegal immigrants under the age of 30 to apply for U.S. work permits. And for those who have followed the immigration debate, it probably won't come as a surprise as to which one that is: Arizona. Gov. Jan Brewer
Brewer signed an executive order on Wednesday—the same day the federal government began accepting applications for the new program—denying eligible illegal immigrants access to public benefits, which include state I.D.s.
Brewer wrote in her order that the "Deferred Action program does not and cannot confer lawful or authorized status or presence upon the unlawful alien applicants," adding that the program "does not provide for any additional public benefit to unlawfully present aliens" aside from the possibility of a work permit and a reprise from deportation.
As Politico explains, the Deferred Action program pertains to undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16. They must be a student, graduate, or a military veteran. Those convicted of a felony or some misdemeanor charges are ineligible.
Wednesday, August 15: The federal government began accepting applications on Wednesday to allow young illegal immigrants to avoid deportation and get work permits under a new immigration initiative President Obama unveiled in June.
According to the latest estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center, as many as 1.7 million unauthorized immigrants could benefit from the initiative, known officially as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. That figure is higher than the initial estimate of 1.4 million.
As the Associated Press notes, the program is kicking off "just months before what promises to be a tight contest for the White House in which the Hispanic vote may play an important role." During his first term, Obama came under fire from Hispanic leaders and their allies who say he hasn't delivered on his campaign promise to overhaul the nation's immigration laws. While the new initiative stops short of a full overhaul, the announcement was largely well-received by a demographic that could decide this November's election.
GOP lawmakers, meanwhile, have accused Obama of playing politics with the decision and circumventing Congress to do so. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, for one, has called the policy backdoor amnesty and voiced fraud concerns.
Generally, the people who qualify for the program are the same who would have been covered by the DREAM Act. Although the measure doesn’t offer legal status or open a path to citizenship, it allows illegal immigrants who have been in the country since childhood to live without fear of deportation. Those who qualify can apply for two-year, renewable deportation deferrals and can get work permits that open doors to Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, and financial aid packages for college.
Those eligible are overwhelmingly Hispanic, comprising 85 percent of those who meet the qualification, even though only three-quarters of the country’s 11.2 million illegal immigrants are Hispanic, according to Pew's estimates. Still, the scope of the program is limited. Some 2.4 million unauthorized immigrants are in the required age range of 16 through 30 but don’t meet the other qualifications.