The Skinny


Gov. Jan Brewer wasn't in the news only for her rejection of a state-run health-insurance exchange last week. (See "Blocked Exchange.")

She also made headlines when she got sued on Thursday, Nov. 29, by the American Civil Liberties Union, National Immigration Law Center and Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

The groups are taking Brewer to court over her August executive order to keep driver's licenses out of the hands of DREAM Act youths who qualify for the Obama administration's deferred-enforcement program.

Brewer laid down the executive order before the November election, in which more than 70 percent of Latino voters went with President Barack Obama after Mitt Romney's Hispanic-outreach effort included promising to support more laws like Arizona's SB 1070. Republicans are now starting to reconsider their previous strategy to win over Latinos while encouraging their friends and family to "self-deport."

Just last week, Sen. Jon Kyl introduced the ACHIEVE Act, a watered-down version of the DREAM Act that puts more bigger hurdles in the path of DREAM Act kids who would seek American citizenship. Of course, Kyl waited until a month before he retired and long after there was any chance his bill would go anywhere to introduce it. It's not intended to be a factual solution.

The DREAM Act would help children and young adults who were brought to the United States when they were children to get on a path to citizenship if they are attending college or joining the military, and they have stayed out of legal trouble.

Because the DREAM Act has stalled in Congress, the Obama administration created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program earlier this year to allow young people to avoid deportation. Republican critics have said that Obama exceeded his legal authority and/or that he has only provided a Band-Aid solution to the problem facing the kids who are eligible for deferred enforcement.

Brewer took it a step further, ordering that kids in the DACA program be banned from receiving driver's licenses.

The coalition of civil-rights groups that are suing Brewer say that her order violates the U.S. Constitution's Supremacy Clause by interfering with immigration law, and violates the 14th Amendment because it discriminates against the DREAM Act kids, according to a MALDEF press release.

"Federal immigration authorities have lifted the shadow of deportation from these bright and hardworking DREAMers, but Arizona insists on pursuing its own immigration policy aimed at keeping them in the dark," said Jennifer Chang Newell, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "Rather than deny these young people the ability to drive—an everyday necessity for most people—our leaders should come together to enact long-term solutions that would allow our talented immigrant youth to achieve the American dream."

But Brewer—whose name somehow got into the mix of potential 2016 GOP presidential contenders this week—is sticking with her strategy of alienating Latinos. In an interview with Fox News last week, she compared DREAM Act kids to drunk drivers.

"The state is the one that licenses the people to be able to drive around the streets; it's not the federal government," Brewer said, "and we don't license kids under 16; we don't license DUI drivers; and our laws are very clear, and I took an oath to uphold that."


The Skinny got out to last week's Tucson Unified School District board meeting, which drew legions of upset parents, students and teachers from the various schools on the district's hit list.

It's heartbreaking to hear these families fighting to keep their neighborhood schools open. (Read more on Page 13.)

TUSD is facing a $17 million shortfall and must figure out a way to save some bucks. Superintendent John Pedicone says that one way to get there is closing schools: The more you close, the less you have to cut elsewhere in the budget.

We've got a complete list of the 14 schools slated for closure on The Range, our daily dispatch, at We have a feeling that if your kid goes to one of them, you're already aware of what's going down.

The list is not yet final; at least a few of these schools will be able cheat death before the list is completed.

If you want to have a say about the school closures, TUSD is having two meetings in the next few days to hear from you: The first is at 10 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 8, and the second is at 6 p.m., Monday, Dec. 10. Both meetings are at Catalina High School's auditorium, 3645 E. Pima St.


During an appearance on CNBC last week, Congressman Raúl Grijalva said he'd rather go over the dreaded "fiscal cliff" than make a deal that dramatically cuts back on Medicare and Social Security, which led to one of the most absurd questions The Skinny has ever heard from a TV journalist.

Host Michelle Caruso-Cabrera informed Grijalva that "as we're talking, the market is selling off once again. Every time members of Congress come on, and I've got to tell you sir, I think you're contributing to the fears that we're going off the fiscal cliff, because it doesn't sound like there's any compromise in what you're saying. Do you care that markets are selling off dramatically when it looks like you guys can't come to a deal?"

Caruso-Cabrera perhaps overestimates her influence if she believes that traders are basing their decisions on her interviews. If she were pavement, would she assume that every time she got wet, she made it rain?

More importantly: She is doing a terrible job of actually explaining what the fiscal cliff really is. While "fiscal cliff" sounds really super-scary, it really means that tax rates will return to Clinton-era rates, while some drastic cuts will occur in the federal budget. On the bright side, that will actually go a long way toward resolving the deficit that is the greatest threat to our liberty and freedom ever, according to certain GOP politicians.

On the not-so-bright side, those tax hikes and spending cuts would eventually lead to a serious reduction in government services and a contraction in the economy, which would probably plunge the country back into a recession. Nobody wants that entire package to stay in place, no matter what their rhetoric is.

But the important thing to realize is that those spending cuts and tax increases wouldn't have an immediate impact, unless dopes like Caruso-Cabrera manage to panic the public and the markets.

There are plenty of good explanations about this on the Internet, but we think New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait summed it up pretty well when he explained: "Going over the fiscal cliff and then doing nothing for another year would mean a huge tax hike and spending cut. But waiting until January would mean extremely gradual tax increases and spending cuts, ones that would not even begin to take place immediately, because Obama has the ability to delay their implementation. And even after they're implemented, the effect would be gradual, and could subsequently be canceled out. It's like saying if you go three weeks without food, you'll die, so if dinner isn't on the table at 6 o'clock sharp, terrible consequences will follow."

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