Texas Gov. Rick Perry says deferred immigrants aren't eligible for state benefits, yet Texas already provides them with two major ones: in-state tuition and driver licenses.
Since Aug. 15, immigration attorney Daniel Caudillo has processed more than 100 deferred deportation applications at his two offices in El Paso and Oddessa.
Many of them are students, many are engineers who've been laying carpet and concrete, and have college degrees. Many are high schoolers with their parents,” said immigration attorney Daniel Caudillo.
Just days after the application process opened, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and now Perry are pushing back against the policy. Perry told every state agency last week the new policy in no way changes state law and deferred immigrants aren't eligible for state benefits.
“To me it's more of a political statement by Gov. Rick Perry than it is any kind of new policy or order,” Caudillo says.
Unlike other states, Texas provides residents regardless of the immigration status in-state tuition rates and with a work-permit, driver licenses, making his letter appear to be more bark than bite.
(Note: A previous version failed to specify that legal immigrants must prove their status or show a work permit to obtain a driver license.)
“Perry's statement doesn't give a yes or no, or any type of directive to agencies that are going to be issuing driver licenses, in particular the Department of Public Safety,” Caudillo said.
Caudillo says Perry's letter doesn't change this opportunity for thousands of El Paso and Las Cruces students and workers -- at least for now.
“Let's continue with the application process,” Caudillo said. “The driver license laws are already in place and as long as we continue with these policies, they should be eligible for a driver license.”