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Arizona Governor Denies Young Immigrants Access to New Federal Benefits

Common Dreams staff

People line up for assistance with paperwork for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California, August 15, 2012. (Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn)

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer once again dealt a blow to the state's undocumented immigrant population Wednesday, issuing an order that bars immigrants who now qualify for temporary legal status in the United States from receiving any state or local public benefits.

The move follows an initiative put forth by the Obama administration titled the "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," which went into effect Wednesday. The program is designed to specifically help children of immigrants who were brought into the country by their parents through enabling them a two year window to apply for work permits, Social Security cards and driver's licenses. The program could help up to 1.7 million undocumented immigrants, currently in the United States, avoid deportation and obtain work authorization.

Lines of young people formed outside immigration offices across the country on Wednesday.

However, Brewer's anti-immigration stronghold remained in place in Arizona, as she issued an executive order denying any such rights to immigrants applying for the new federal immigration benefits in the state.

In Arizona, officials said an estimated 80,000 illegal immigrants could have been eligible to apply.

Carlos Garcia, director of the grassroots community group Puente in Phoenix, called the governor's move on Wednesday a "mean-spirited attack" on a well-meaning program.

"Brewer has once again put Arizona's name on the map as the epicenter of anti-immigrant racism and hate," Garcia said in a statement. "However, like we have continuously showed throughout her time as governor, the community will stand united against Brewer's latest assault."

Protests have been planned in Arizona to repudiate Brewer's executive move.

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