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Lieberman criticizes Ariz. invader initiative

Joe Lieberman criticizes Ariz. immigrant initiative

Elvia Díaz
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 12, 2003 12:00 AM

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., called a proposed Arizona ballot initiative that would deny social benefits to undocumented immigrants "mean-spirited" and divisive.

He is the first Democratic presidential candidate to weigh in on the initiative.

"It's a mean-spirited reaction to the inadequate current immigration system," Lieberman said Thursday. "The undocumented workers who will be victimized by this proposal don't deserve it."

The initiative, Protect Arizona Now, would require state and local government workers to check the immigration status of everyone seeking public services. That means that undocumented immigrants would no longer be able to receive housing subsidies or library cards, among other services.

On Friday, U.S. Rep J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., said he opposes the initiative, though it "accurately reflects the frustration in Arizona and across the country with America's abject failure to protect our borders."

"Unfortunately, the proposition offers only a parochial and therefore unworkable patch on a national problem," Hayworth said.

This week, initiative proponents took the first steps to start collecting the 122,612 signatures required to place the measure on the November 2004 ballot.

The initiative would also require residents to show proof of citizenship when registering to vote.

State Reps. Ben Miranda and Steve Gallardo, both D-Phoenix, said that lining up Lieberman behind efforts to defeat the measure is significant because of his high-profile status.

Rep. Randy Graf, R-Green Valley, one of the initiative's main supporters, said Lieberman's involvement won't have much impact on whether the measure makes it to the ballot or whether it will ultimately pass or fail.

However, he recognized it will likely become a national political topic and thus other politicians might weigh in.