Original URL: http://www.azstarnet.com/star/sun/31221RIllegalImmigratio.html

Calif group again tries to halt migrant services
December 21, 2003

By Robert Jablon

LOS ANGELES - 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 Arnold Schwarzenegger repealed the law after taking office.

Backers say the "Save Our State Initiative" is necessary because of the cost of providing services to illegal crossers.

The state Republican Party, which endorsed 187, lost many Hispanic votes. No major GOP organization has endorsed the new campaign. Some fear it would ignite ethnic politics. 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."