Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Friday she was "not surprised" that a coalition of immigrant-rights advocates had filed a lawsuit against her seeking to overturn an executive order denying driver's licenses to illegal immigrants who avoided deportation under a new Obama administration policy.
During an interview on FOX News, Ms. Brewer said she was enforcing state law and was "going to obey my oath of office."
"The state is the one that licenses the people to be able to drive around the streets. It's not the federal government and we don't license kids under 16, we don't license DUI drivers, and our laws are very clear and I took an oath to uphold that," she said.
The class-action lawsuit seeks to block the governor's Aug. 15 executive order issued after the federal government implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows youths who came to the U.S. illegally as children to live and work in this country for renewable periods of two years.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, an immigrant youth-led organization.
"Federal immigration authorities have lifted the shadow of deportation from these bright and hardworking DREAMers, but Arizona insists on pursuing its own immigration policy aimed at keeping them in the dark," said Jennifer Chang Newell, an ACLU staff attorney. "Rather than deny these young people the ability to drive — an everyday necessity for most people — our leaders should come together to enact long-term solutions that would allow our talented immigrant youth to achieve the American dream."
The lawsuit alleges that the state has classified young adult immigrants as not having permission to be in the U.S. and asks a federal judge to declare the governor´s executive order unconstitutional because it is in conflict with federal law and denies licenses without valid justification.
But Ms. Brewer said her order sought only to uphold the law of the state of Arizona.
"The law was passed here in Arizona that illegals could not obtain a drivers license in the state of Arizona," she said. "And that took place probably in maybe 1996 so it's been on the books for a long, long time."
About 11,000 people in Arizona have applied for the deferred-deportation protection under the Obama administration´s policy.
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