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Activists criticize Gov. Brewer's expansion on license ban

State Sen. Steve Gallardo (center, gray suit) speaks about Gov. Jan Brewer's decision to expand a ban on licenses for some illegal immigrants. (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)

PHOENIX -- Immigrant rights activists are outraged over Gov. Jan Brewer's expansion of a ban on driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.

The ban now includes anyone who has been given a reprieve from deportation, regardless of the reason.

Phoenix Attorney Daniel Ortega said the ban's expansion hurts a lot of people.

"The governor decided that she would also ban victims of crime and abused women from being able to secure driver's licenses," he said.

Ortega called the move a "vindictive response" to a lawsuit that was filed to stop any ban on illegal immigrants getting driver's licenses.

"She wanted to win the lawsuit," he said. "And to do so, she would have to punish the most vulnerable among us."

During a press conference at the Arizona Capitol Building Friday, other activists lashed out at Brewer.

"Gov. Brewer just gave us another example of how her Tea Party extremist politics are completely, completely divorced from Arizona values," said Beto Soto of the group Citizens for a Better Arizona.

Activist Alfredo Gutierrez said the ban affects young people who have lived their entire lives here in America after being brought to the country illegally by their parents.

"If any violations or crimes were committed, it was by their parents," he said.

Gutierrez said the expansion also victimizes other people.

"The victims of domestic violence are innocent," he said. "The victims of crime are innocent. Why she would extend this to the innocent, I think the guidance could only be found in the heart."

Gutierrez thinks he knows what's in Brewer's heart.

"There's anger there, there's bitterness there, there's hate there," he said, adding that he believes Brewer's decision was influenced by her own personal political aspirations, though he didn't say what those might be.

State Sen. Steve Gallardo wants Brewer to change her mind and reverse the expansion.

"We call on the governor to do the right thing," he said. "Let's stand with those victims of domestic violence. Let's stand with those victims involved with sex trafficking. Let's stand with those victims that are innocent."

Gallardo also called on all Arizona candidates for governor to take a stand on the issue.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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