Prop. 200 foes expected to mount court challenge
November 11, 2004

PHOENIX - Opponents of Proposition 200 planned to seek a temporary restraining order in federal court Tuesday to prevent the immigration measure from becoming law.

 Phoenix attorney Daniel Ortega said the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund will argue the initiative illegally turns state and local employees into federal immigration authorities and violates "a host of constitutional issues."  

A U.S. District Court judge in Tucson could immediately grant the 10-day restraining order and prevent it from becoming law while its constitutionality is determined, or refuse to issue the order and let Proposition 200 become law.

 Either way, a hearing is expected to be set within the next 10 days on the merits of the request to declare the initiative unconstitutional.  

Without a restraining order, Proposition 200 will go into effect as soon as Gov. Janet Napolitano proclaims it law, which is expected to be this week.  

State voters approved Proposition 200 on Nov. 2.  

As written, it would require proof of citizenship when registering to vote and applying for public benefits.

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard earlier this month concluded it applies only to welfare benefits.  

But some supporters of Proposition 200 said Goddard was wrong and went to court last week seeking a broader scope, to include benefits such as public housing, food assistance, college education and employment benefits.  

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund is expected to argue that Proposition 200 is pre-empted by federal law, subjects state officials to a violation of rights because they can be held for a crime under a vague statute, and deprives people of due process because it can end benefits without providing a chance to prove eligibility.  

"If that's their best argument, they're not going to get very far," said Randy Pullen, chairman of Yes on 200, one of two committees that successfully put the measure before the public.