Brewer’s revolt centers around her attempt to defy a basic federal law, the Real ID Act, in which Congress listed “deferred action” recipients as being eligible to receive driver’s licenses. Real ID was passed in 2005 to improve license security after 9/11, but 20 states, including Arizona, continue to fight the law, saying it doesn’t give enough leeway to states. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who will ultimately oversee DACA, fought for the repeal of Real ID in 2009, saying it had proved unworkable and unpopular.
The order “is an act of defiance and a constitutional throwdown,” says Michael Olivas, an immigration-law expert at the University of Houston. “The fact is, there is no gray area as to deferred action. Once someone is given that, they have to be given a driver’s license.”
Brewer, who in January raised her finger to the president’s face during a tense encounter on an Arizona airport runway, disagrees.
Undocumented immigrants "are here illegally and unlawfully in the state of Arizona, and it's already been determined that you're not allowed to have a driver's license if you are here illegally," the governor said in a press conference. "The Obama amnesty plan doesn't make them legally here."
Arizona, under Brewer, became a leading force in the anti-illegal immigration movement by passing Senate Bill 1070, which included tough measures designed to shrink the numbers of illegal immigrants. Several other states including Georgia and Alabama followed suit, sparking legal showdowns between the states and the US Department of Justice. This summer, the US Supreme Court struck down most of SB 1070, but retained one key provision: the ability of police officers to ask for identification from those they suspect are in the country illegally.