THE ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Over the vehement opposition of
the entire Arizona political establishment, on
Nov. 2, Arizona voters adopted Proposition 200
by a decisive 56 percent to 44 percent vote.
The governor, both U.S. senators,
most of Arizona's congressional delegation, the
Catholic Church, the Chamber of Commerce,
public-employee labor unions, major Latino
organizations and most of the state's daily
newspapers opposed it. Yet, despite this
juggernaut of criticism, the people of Arizona
The success of Proposition 200
has sent shock waves across the country, and
several states are now considering similar
ballot initiatives. But the message is broader
and deeper than merely the protection of
taxpayers from welfare fraud.
Citizens want something done
about illegal immigration, and they are tired of
excuses and cute sloganeering.
It is true that the federal
government has primary responsibility for border
control, and it needs to start taking that job
But state taxpayers are the ones
most directly affected by the massive flow of
illegal aliens, now estimated at 3 million each
year entering our country, and officials need to
start enforcing state laws as well.
Unfortunately, the struggle to
enforce our laws did not end on Nov. 2.
Opponents went into U.S. District Court in
Tucson on Nov. 30 and obtained a temporary
restraining order blocking its implementation.
But on Dec. 22, the federal judge
lifted that order, and the law is now being
implemented. Contrary to assertions by
opponents, the measure does not interfere with
any federally mandated program or benefit.
Exit polls showed Proposition 200
was favored by majorities in all age groups, by
both men and women, urban and rural voters, and
by voters from middle and lower incomes.
An overwhelming 72 percent of
voters with incomes under $15,000 approved it.
Perhaps most important, 47 percent of Latino
voters supported it. Protestants approved it by
62 percent and Catholics by 55 percent.
The main dividing line on
Proposition 200 was ideological, not racial,
economic or religious.
Republicans supported it by 70
percent, whereas Democrats gave it only 42
Proposition 200 does not deprive
any citizen or legal resident of any rights.
Citizens knew what they were voting for. All it
really does is require state officials to
enforce existing state laws regarding voting
rights and access to public benefits. It
explicitly exempts emergency services and K-12
education mandated by the federal government.
The campaign against this measure
was nasty and full of gross misrepresentations
of its true intent.
The initiative was not
anti-immigrant, it was anti-illegal entrant. It
does not interfere with federal immigration
enforcement. On the contrary, it complements and
supports law enforcement.
The federal government has
unquestionably neglected its duty to protect our
nation's borders, and Congress needs to step up
and address border security in an honest way.
But in view of the massive
numbers of illegal entrants now in our country -
recently estimated by Bear Stearns at 20
million, not the 9 million estimated by the U.S.
Census Bureau - states have an obligation to
protect the integrity of voter registration
rolls and to also take reasonable steps to
prevent the abuse of state social services.
Arizona has taken a giant step to
force public officials to perform their sworn
duties. Yet, it may take similar efforts in many
states before the political establishment begins
to sing from the same hymnal.
● Republican Tom Tancredo
represents Colorado's Littleton-based 6th
District in the U.S. House of
Representatives and is chairman of the
Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus.
Readers can reach him by e-mail at