Reconquista Nativo Lopez chimes in on 'New Prop. 187"
..."I think it's unfortunate ... symptomatic of the worst of what we saw of the 1990s anti-immigrant movement. It's going to be back to divisive politics for California," said Nativo Lopez, president of the Mexican American Political Association and national director of the immigrant rights group Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana (and of Dornan-Sanchez vote fraud fame).
Proposition 187 supporters launch new ballot measure
ROBERT JABLON, Associated Press Writer
Saturday, December 20, 2003
(12-20) 16:13 PST LOS ANGELES (AP) --
Backers of Proposition 187 a decade ago have resurrected their effort to deny public services to illegal immigrants and started gathering signatures to qualify a new measure for the November ballot.
The "Save Our State Initiative" would bar undocumented immigrants from obtaining driver's licenses and most public services, including non-emergency health care.
Police, teachers and other public employees would have to notify federal authorities in writing of immigration violations or face potential misdemeanor criminal charges.
"We don't think it's right to give welfare to illegal aliens," campaign organizer Ron Prince said Saturday. "If you don't do something about illegal immigration, you will never cure your deficit."
The campaign has collected hundreds of signatures and several thousand dollars since it began less than two weeks ago, Prince said. Backers need 500,900 valid signatures by April to put the measure on the November ballot.
Proposition 187 was approved by 60 percent of voters in 1994 but it was challenged in court and never took effect. This time supporters have designed the measure so it can survive legal challenges, Prince said.
The Tustin accountant said supporters of 187 were demoralized for most of the decade but encouraged by the recall of Gov. Gray Davis and a grass-roots campaign to overturn a bill he signed that would have permitted some illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.
New Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger repealed the law after taking office. He voted for Proposition 187 but has not taken a position on the proposed new initiative.
Backers say the "Save Our State Initiative" is necessary because of the cost of providing services to illegals.
A summary of the measure prepared by the attorney general's office says it could cost the government tens of millions of dollars to verify citizenship but could save more than $100 million a year through reduced costs of providing public services.
The campaign over 187 had ugly racial overtones, with activists denouncing supporters as bigots.
The state Republican Party, which endorsed the measure, lost many Hispanic votes and much goodwill after then-Gov. Pete Wilson, running for re-election, aired a TV ad that showed Mexican immigrants streaming through the San Diego border crossing while a voice proclaimed: "They keep coming."
This time, Republican leaders are being wary. No major GOP organization has endorsed the new campaign. Some fear it would ignite ethnic politics in a state where the Hispanic vote is increasingly important.
Opponents of the measure agree.
"I think it's unfortunate ... symptomatic of the worst of what we saw of the 1990s anti-immigrant movement. It's going to be back to divisive politics for California," said Nativo Lopez, president of the Mexican American Political Association and national director of the immigrant rights group Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana.
He credits 187 with galvanizing Hispanics politically. There are about 2 million more immigrants who have become citizens and registered voters since the passage of 187, and they will be an important force in defeating the measure if it makes the ballot, Lopez said.
Prince said the issue was never race and that many Hispanics favor curbing services to illegal immigrants.
"Who really hurts most from illegals?" he said. "The people who live in East L.A. who ... compete for lower wages and jobs, and whose children have to attend crowded schools."
He disputes some studies that indicate illegal immigrants pay more in taxes than they use in government services.
"If that were true, California would be awash in extra cash instead of having the worst deficit in the nation and in our history," Prince said.
The new measure has some differences from the original. It would allow illegal immigrants to attend public school, which Prince said avoids one potential legal issue.
Under the new measure, "we are enforcing existing federal law," he said. "It makes our case much easier in the court of public opinion that we no longer have a question of constitutionality."