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Friday, May 24 2013 11:48 PM EDT2013-05-25 03:48:33 GMT
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PHOENIX (AP/CBS5) -
Immigrant rights advocates have filed a lawsuit in a bid to overturn Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's order denying driver's licenses for young immigrants who have gotten work permits and avoided deportation under a new Obama administration policy.
"It is clearly Arizona and Gov. Brewer thumbing her nose at the federal government," said Alessandra Soler, Executive Director of ACLU Arizona. "And, I think she's doing it deliberately. It's her attempt, again, to get in this proxy fight with the feds about immigration."
The lawsuit filed Thursday asks a federal judge to declare Brewer's policy unconstitutional because it's trumped by federal law and denies licenses without valid justification.
"The U.S. Supreme Court said that if the federal government has given the states direction or classified immigrants in a certain way, the states can follow that direction," said Jennifer Chang Newell an ACLU Attorney. "But, that's not what Arizona's doing here."
The Obama administration in June took administrative steps to shield as many as 800,000 immigrants from deportation.
Brewer has defended her Aug. 15 order on driver's licenses as necessary for ensuring that state agencies adhere to the intent of state laws denying public benefits to illegal immigrants.
"They are folks who have been granted the right to live and work here," said Soler. "They cannot drive to school, they cannot drive to work; and just as a policy matter it makes no sense."
Thursday afternoon Brewer's director of communications, Matthew Benson, released the following statement regarding the lawsuit:
"Gov. Brewer has a duty and obligation to defend state law, which limits the disbursement of public benefits and Arizona driver's licenses to individuals who are lawfully present in the United States. Beneficiaries under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are not.
Unlike all previous classes granted deferred action, the DACA program is neither Congressionally authorized nor enshrined in federal law. The legal limbo now faced by DACA recipients is not due to any action by the State of Arizona or Arizona voters. Rather, it is due to President Obama's decision to pursue this program via executive action rather than through the proper legislative process."
Copyright 2012CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.