Click to play video Terry Greene Sterling on the people in her book 'Illegal: Life and Death in Arizona's Immigration War Zone'

Recent Blog Entries

Thanks, South Central, for celebrating diversity, for uniting us instead of dividing us.
Up now on The Daily Beast, a travel story about my trip north of the Arctic Circle this January, to see things before they change.  
Mar 23 Arizona Immigration-Law Backer Woos Mexico
Many American Hispanics and Mexicans in Mexico see Arizona as a racist state, thanks to SB 1070.
Mar 18 Pew: Crossing border illegally more than once drives uptick in federal immigration crime
In 1992, 12 percent of sentenced federal offenders were unauthorized immigrants, the Pew Center reports today. Ten years later, 48 percent of sentenced federal offenders were unauthorized immigrants. The reason for the uptick:  more unauthorized immigrants who were caught crossing the border more than once have been sentenced to hard time – two years on […]
Dec 06 Luis Gutierrez, Immigration Reform and the Demographic Tsunami
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Nov 22 Shattered Dreams: Jan Brewer’s Arizona fails to investigate 6000 cases of child abuse
I’m not saying Juana could have prevented the massive CPS negligence, but with her education, heart and work ethic, she would have improved the culture at CPS, and would have helped the fragile, abused children who crossed her path.
Arizona Gov. Brewer vs Dreamers
Arizona Gov. Brewer vs Dreamers


On Aug. 15,  thousands of Arizona’s undocumented kids– youngsters who were  brought to the United States as children and had graduated from high school or college and had committed no crimes — began the process of signing up for “Deferred Action” under a special rule change granted by President Barack Obama. The new federal permits will  allow them to live, and work, and study legally in the United States. But as the so-called “Dreamers”  filled out the forms that would give them two-year permits to be in the United States,  Arizona’s Gov. Jan Brewer issued an executive order denying them state driver licenses and state ID cards.

BrewerSOTUS 051011 thumb 640xauto 3056 Arizona Gov. Brewer vs Dreamers

Jan Brewer Photo credit: Creative Commons/@ADLavinsky

In a nutshell, Brewer’s order denies Dreamers  state identification cards or driver licenses, because she reasons, such kids remain  in the country illegally even after they get their papers that say they are in the country legally.

The order also forbids the kids from receiving other state benefits not tied to the federal government, which amounts to, well, hardly anything.

Bottom line: Federal immigration officials will give Arizona Dreamers work permits and social security cards, but  Brewer wants to discourage  them from working  by preventing them from driving to work.

And if Brewer is correct, if there really are 80,000 Dreamers in Arizona, wouldn’t it be wiser to encourage  80,000 kids to work and/or study in college and pay taxes to the state of Arizona for years to come?

Alessandra Soler, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, laid it out what she sees as the legal folly of Brewer’s order  in an email Soler sent reporters this evening:

“Brewer is distorting federal law and inaccurately interpreting state law,” writes Soler. “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. .”

“She is perpetuating the myth that deferred action applicants are somehow submitting fraudulent documents and that is completely false.  Not only is she singling out young people who are eligible for deferred action, but she also is excluding other categories of non-citizens who are authorized to be in the country, including victims of domestic violence, from obtaining state-identification while their immigration applications are being processed.”

Brewer is an astute politico, and her move signaled something large  and something small.

Large: She gave a nod to voters uncomfortable with irreversible demographic changes in Arizona, and blind to the benefits of such changes.

Small: She  also gave a not to herself. She’ll depend on these voters to buy her book and pay her speaking fees when she steps down from the governor’s office at the end of the year. Or when she gets a cabinet post if Romney wins.

But  while  Gov. Jan’s  on the speaking circuit or in D.C., the fallout from her “executive order” will  have to be hashed out in court.

At our expense.

Here’s  brewer’s order.