AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Gov. Rick Perry has told state agencies that the Obama administration's new program allowing some illegal immigrants to avoid deportation is "a slap in the face to the rule of law," and clarified that Texas' immigration policies won't change.
The governor wrote that he has previously stated his staunch opposition to the new policy, and his letter criticized the Obama administration for attempting to "unilaterally undermine the law through a policy statement issued under the cover of so-called 'prosecutorial discretion.'"
He said the move was "a slap in the face to the rule of law and our Constitutional framework of separated powers."
But Perry also wrote that the program, "does not undermine or change our state laws" and that he expects state agencies to keep enforcing them.
A spokeswoman for the governor, Catherine Frazier, said Monday that even though the policy won't alter state law, Perry has been very clear in opposing it.
During his unsuccessful run for president, Perry strongly defended a Texas law that grants cheaper, in-state tuition to illegal immigrants who attended a Texas high school for at least three years. He also was a vocal opponent of a fence stretching the entire length of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Still, Frazier said Perry opposes the way the new policy has been implemented: "They basically circumvented the whole process."
Last week, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed an executive order directing her state's agencies to deny driver's licenses and other public benefits to illegal immigrants who obtain work authorizations under the program. Arizona passed one of the nation's toughest anti-immigration laws and Brewer said the federal program doesn't give immigrants legal status and she's following the intent of the current state law denying public benefits to them.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heinemann has said his state won't extend program participants' driver's licenses, welfare benefits or public assistance.
Perry's letter does not direct any action in response to the new program. Instead, Frazier said the governor "wanted, on the record, to let agencies know what he expects of them."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.