Andrew Johnson contributed to this post
On August 16, Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer signed an executive order to block state benefits, including driver licenses for recipients of Deferred Action--a new federal government program that reflects the goals of the Dream Act to temporarily delay deportation for undocumented immigrants who moved to the U.S. before the age of 16 and are currently 30 years old or younger.
Despite the Governor’s claim that this is what the citizens of Arizona want, nearly three-quarters of Arizonans (73%), regardless of their race, ethnicity and party affiliation support the DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented immigrants who graduate from college or serve in the military to become U.S. citizens (Marist Poll, April 2012).
There is even strong support among Arizonans for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants: 78% of all Arizonans, 76% of Whites, 81% of Latinos, 69% of Republicans, 89% of Democrats and 79% of Independents., according to a November 2011 Marist Poll.
Governor Brewer is also a proponent of Arizona's law SB 1070, an attempt by the state to take federal law into its own hands and potentially discriminate against immigrants. The Supreme Court has already ruled the legislation is largely unconstitutional. It struck down three of the four sections of the law that were challenged, and the Court basically invited future challenges to the one section it upheld for now.
Surprisingly, about 70% percent of Arizonans do support Arizona’s SB1070, (Marist Poll, November 2011) despite their support for the practical and immigrant friendly policies described above, including the Dream Act and a pathway to citizenship.
These contrasting views, also observed in national surveys, reaffirm what research has consistently shown in recent years: voters around the country are hungry for new, practical solutions to what most see as a broken immigration system, while they support enforcing existing laws and border security. Given Arizonans' support of the DREAM Act and pathways to citizenship, Deferred Action is a good first step that a majority of Arizona’s citizens and the rest of us can get behind.
- Arizona v. United States: Media Coverage of the Supreme Court (August 2012)
- Leveraging the Moment: Talking About President Obama's DREAM Announcement