Texas and Nebraska Move to Deny Benefits to Deferred Action Immigrants
On the heels of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s announcement that her state will deny driver’s licenses and other public benefits to illegal immigrants granted temporary legal status under the Obama administration’s new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, two other governors have stepped into the fray.
On August 17, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman announced that his state would follow Arizona’s lead in denying driver’s licenses and other benefits to deferred action status holders, stating “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.”
In Texas, Governor Rick Perry stopped short of announcing a ban on driver’s licenses for individuals with deferred action status but did affirm that the federal immigration “directive does not undermine or change our state laws” and that the new program “confer[s] absolutely no legal status whatsoever” on qualifying immigrants.
The controversy provoked by the Obama administration’s June 2012 decision to grant work authorization and temporary deportation reprieve to the more than one million DREAMers residing in the United States is likely to continue fueling state-by-state reactions and testing the federal government’s traditional authority over immigration law.