August 16, 2012 NEWS RELEASE — AZ Gov. Brewer’s ‘Denial of Benefits’ Order Prolongs Immigration Problems; Smooth Start to DACA Points to Solutions

Press Contact: Jon Pattee
202-591-5778, jpattee@lirs.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 16, 2012 – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) today applauded Wednesday’s smooth start to the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process, while deploring Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s new executive order denying state and local public benefits to young undocumented immigrants who are eligible for deferred action.

“Yesterday’s inaugural processing of deferred action is a step towards the real solution for America—comprehensive immigration reform,” said LIRS President and CEO Linda Hartke. “In contrast, Governor Brewer’s order sends a message that stifles the hopes of DREAMers, dragging out the difficulties facing both these young people and those attempting to fix our broken immigration system.”

Thousands of young people seeking temporary legal status under deferred action lined up at immigration offices nationwide on Wednesday. These young undocumented immigrants, often referred to as “DREAMers,” were brought into the United States while still children. Governor Brewer, in response to the DACA launch, on Wednesday issued an executive order stating this group’s ineligibility for state or local public benefits, including the issuance of drivers’ licenses.

Hartke said: “The Administration’s deferred action process is, indeed, welcome, but it is not a substitute for comprehensive immigration reform. We hope to continue to hear reports that the process is fair and accessible and to see that its benefits outweigh the risks for these promising young people.”

“Though the President’s deferred action does open a window of hope for undocumented residents who were brought here as children, many continue to try to slam closed those windows,” said Bishop Stephen S. Talmage of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Grand Canyon Synod.

“The response of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to work in opposition of the President’s two-year program by denying the opportunity of qualified program participants to receive a driver’s license continues the volleying between attempts at partial federal fixes and state leaders’ defensive maneuvering,” said Talmage, whose synod includes Arizona and Nevada. “The victims of this political match are children and young adults, most whom have only known the United States as home. The call to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform over-and-against piecemeal actions continues to be needed.”

LIRS was one of many organizations supporting the U.S. government in its legal challenge to Arizona’s extreme anti-immigration legislation, SB 1070. LIRS signed on to two separate amicus briefs filed as voluntary information to the Supreme Court.

LIRS advocates on behalf of refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations, and provides services to migrants through over 60 grassroots legal and social service partners across the United States.