Obama’s DREAM Act-lite runs into more trouble as Nebraska, Arizona go rogue
Nebraska has joined Arizona in opposing legal status for immigrants who are newly-documented under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, setting up a constitutional battle while raising tough questions about the program.
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“Jan Brewer has once again shown that she is nothing more than George Wallace in a skirt," Jeff Rogers, the chair of the Pima County Democratic Party, told reporters in Arizona. "What's next? Will she personally stand outside the Motor Vehicle office and block entry to qualified 'DREAMers'?"Skip to next paragraph
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George Wallace is the late Alabama governor who made his “stand in the schoolhouse door” at the University of Alabama to block African-American students from entering, and who, upon his inauguration, insisted, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
Harsh as it is, the Wallace analogy will ring true for many Americans. But it also suggests another underlying problem with Obama’s policy.
In the case of Wallace, he was challenging Congress. In the case of Arizona and Nebraska, the governors are challenging what some conservatives see as an extra-constitutional gambit orchestrated by Obama alone as a way to implement the failed DREAM Act through bureaucratic fiat.
That debate is one that Brewer and Heineman may be trying to force Obama to have ahead of the election, says Mark Krikorian, director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies. “It’s a broader challenge to the government … and also makes sense for electoral purposes,” he says.
But not all Republicans are on board. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who lost ground in the presidential primaries after sympathizing with the plight of illegal immigrants, has criticized the policy, but has not taken action against it. In fact, Texas is currently one of only a few states that allow in-state tuition at public universities for illegal immigrants.
And therein lays one big test for Obama’s new immigration policy. In order for “deferred action” immigrants to get in-state tuition benefits – a key selling point – the bulk of state legislatures will have to pass legislation to make that possible.
At the very least, the moves by Arizona and Nebraska suggest that the state-by-state debate over what some are calling DREAM Act-lite will continue and likely intensify.