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Group seeks Prop. 187-like ballot measure


December 3, 2003

SACRAMENTO ­ A group that sponsored Proposition 187, a measure denying public services to illegal immigrants that was blocked by the courts, will try to place a similar initiative on the November ballot next year.

The group is encouraged by the pending repeal of a law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver licenses and the historic election that recalled former Gov. Gray Davis and replaced him with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Ron Prince of Save Our State said polls show that Proposition 187 continues to be popular with voters, and drives for the recall and a referendum on the driver license law show that signatures can be gathered on the Internet.

"This business of trying to pander to one ethnic group or another ­ that doesn't wash very well with the public," Prince said.

The secretary of state gave the group approval yesterday to gather the 598,105 signatures needed to place the initiative on the ballot.

Proposition 187 was passed by voters in 1994 after a divisive campaign, but was struck down in court because of a conflict with federal law. After Davis dropped an appeal in 1999, the backers of Proposition 187 unsuccessfully tried to gather signatures for another initiative.

"Our movement was rather discouraged," Prince said, "and there was not enough interest to be able to do it. The white flag was flying over our side of the issue."

Prince said the new initiative avoids a federal conflict by using language from a law passed by Congress in 1996 that denies taxpayer-supported public services to illegal immigrants, b ut makes enforcement optional by states.

He said the new initiative does not contain the Proposition 187 ban on children of illegal immigrants attending public schools. But he expects the school ban to be sought in a lawsuit if the measure passes.

The new initiative also prohibits issuing driver licenses to illegal immigrants and would prevent state and local government from accepting identification documents issued by foreign consulates.