PHOENIX — Gov. Jan Brewer said Wednesday that she sees no contradiction between her desire to help victims of sex trafficking and her decision to take away driver’s licenses from some domestic-violence victims who are in the country illegally.
Brewer told members of a task force she created on trafficking that she wants solutions to cut the number of women and girls being forced into prostitution.
“You know that generally they target women and children,” she told panel members. “I want you to know that I am committed, as I know you all are, to coming up with a solution.”
But the governor, speaking to reporters after her comments, sidestepped a question why, given her concern for victimized women, her administration is no longer issuing licenses to some domestic-violence victims who have been granted deferred-action status by the Department of Homeland Security.
That status allows them to not only remain in the country but also work here.
“I think that that is kind of a loaded question,” Brewer said . She said the issue being discussed by her task force “is horrendous and it’s evil and it’s sick.”
“And it has nothing to do with driver’s licenses,” the governor said.
Brewer is in court defending her decision to refuse to license those under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, announced last year by the Obama administration. About 15,000 Arizonans who were brought to this country as children have qualified and been granted work permits by the federal government.
But Brewer contends that their presence is not “authorized” by federal law as required under a 1996 Arizona statute.
Challengers to the state policy pointed out that Arizona has issued licenses for years to those in other deferred-action programs who are here illegally, which the state responded to by announcing it would stop issuing licenses to those in two other programs.
ADOT spokesman Timothy Tait said his agency has no way of knowing how many individuals are going to lose their licenses under the new policy. But Brewer denied Wednesday that anyone is being hurt by the move.
A federal judge has questioned the state’s policy of recognizing some deferred- action categories and not others. But he refused to order Brewer to immediately start issuing licenses to those covered by the new deferred-action policy.
The case goes to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in December.