Duped on Prop. 200
Arizona Daily Star
Nov. 10, 2004


Arizonans have been duped by a powerful extremist group as part of its nationwide plan to keep Mexicans out of the country under the guise of immigration reform. Voters approved Proposition 200 after backers of the measure insisted loudly and repeatedly that it would apply only to voter registration and welfare.  

Within a week of the election, a leader of the effort - Randy Pullen, also the state's Republican national committeeman - said he will argue in court that it should apply instead to anything defined in federal law as a state or local benefit.

 The nightmare scenarios painted by Proposition 200 opponents now appear more likely. If Pullen has his way, you may indeed need to show your birth certificate to get a library card.  

There's little that most Arizonans can do about it now. Perhaps Proposition 200 would have passed even if the campaign had leveled with voters, so frustrated are they at federal failures to deal with immigration reform. Now, the courts and the Justice Department will decide how broadly the measure is applied.

 Some Arizonans, though, should act. The lawmakers who claim they started this process and now mumble their dismay at its hijacking should call a press conference to denounce Pullen and his money men at the Washington-based Federation for American Immigration Reform (www.fairus.org).

 These lawmakers, state Reps. Russell K. Pearce of Mesa and Randy Graf of Green Valley, should also offer to join the legal fight against Pullen and the deep pockets of FAIR.

 Pearce knows how to call a press conference. He gathered the media in Phoenix in September to urge a boycott of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and its members because the chamber had joined the long list of Proposition 200 foes. To his credit, Pearce now says he will introduce legislation to get his measure back on track if the courts extend it beyond voting and welfare.

 But that's not enough. FAIR has made fools of Pearce and Graf. If they don't denounce this legal maneuver, they look like liars - deliberate conspirators in a bait-and-switch on the voters of Arizona. Consider their words up to now.

 ● Here's Pearce writing for The Arizona Conservative (www.azconservative.org): "This initiative started in my office when the governor of this state vetoed a very simple bill that required ID when one goes to the polls to vote. . . .

 "This initiative only deals with elections and those actively seeking taxpayer dollars in the way of welfare. Read the initiative."

 ● Here's Graf in a Daily Star roundtable with Alexis Mazón, a leader of the anti-200 effort:

 Mazón: "They could have defined terms. They could have stated that it only applies to the provisions of this (welfare) section. ..."

 Graf:     "It does say that. Go to the back pages, to lines nine and 10. ... 'Verify that the applicant is eligible for benefits as described by this section.' "

● And here's Kathy McKee, another leader of the movement, in an Oct. 26 New York Times story: "This is about protecting the voting process and prohibiting welfare fraud. Nothing more, nothing less."

 FAIR, at least, has been consistent all along. The group hired paid gatherers in the spring and was responsible for turning in most of the signatures that got the proposition on the ballot.

 Here's what Dan Stein, its president, says on the FAIR Web site: "We see Prop. 200 as the beginning of a process to take the immigration reform message directly to voters all across the country who, like people in Arizona, have lost patience with an unresponsive political establishment."  

FAIR is no friend of Arizona. The organization rails against all forms of guest worker programs, though Arizonans John McCain, Jim Kolbe and Jeff Flake are leaders of the congressional effort to create one.

 FAIR blames illegal immigration for the problems of growth in Arizona, even crowded Phoenix freeways, though Census Bureau data show foreign immigration here is below the national average.

 And a study by FAIR, which fueled Proposition 200, puts the cost of illegal immigration in the state at $1.3 billion without so much as a nod to the benefits, including tax revenues.  

It was The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial June 17, that decried the underlying agenda of FAIR and similar groups, "which has less to do with immigration per se and more to do with environmental extremism and population growth concerns influenced by the discredited claims of the 19th century British economist Thomas Malthus."  

An independent state like Arizona has no business doing business with a group like this. Neither do its lawmakers.