Immigrant Measure Won’t Make Ballot
An attempt to deny benefits didn’t get enough signatures.
Aurelio Rojas, sacbee.com (Sacramento CA), Apr. 27
The author of Proposition 187 conceded Monday his campaign will not have enough signatures to qualify another ballot measure designed to deny public benefits to illegal immigrants.
“We’re not going to be on the ballot in November,” said Ron Prince, who plans to make an official announcement today.
The Orange County accountant blamed the leadership of the Republican Party and vowed to mount a fund-raising drive to qualify the proposed constitutional amendment for the March 2006 ballot.
“The Republican Party establishment does not support this issue, (but) Republican voters certainly do and would like to have this on the ballot,” Prince said in a telephone interview.
Unlike 1994, when the GOP supported Proposition 187 — which was gutted by the courts after voters overwhelmingly approved it — the party steered clear of the new version.
Duf Sundheim, chairman of the state Republican Party, recently said the GOP was focusing on other issues, including re-electing President Bush and gaining seats in the state Legislature.
But political observers noted that after Proposition 187 passed, the GOP lost Latino votes and seats in the Legislature.
Democratic state Sen. Gil Cedillo, who is trying to persuade Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, welcomed the latest news.
Prince had predicted that if the measure qualified for the November ballot, Schwarzenegger would not sign Cedillo’s bill — SB 1160 — and voters would decide the issue.
Prince’s measure would have prohibited illegal immigrants from obtaining driver’s licenses and other public benefits, such as subsidized housing, food stamps and health care.
State and local agencies also would be barred from accepting consular-issued cards as proof of identity. But unlike Proposition 187, the measure would not have barred illegal immigrants from public schools — a power the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled states do not have.
Cedillo lauded the GOP for declining to support Prince’s campaign, which like Proposition 187 was grandly titled the “Save Our State” initiative.
“The (Republican) leadership has taken the position that says, ‘Look, we don’t want to fight this on the margins and the extremes. … Let’s be a little more thoughtful,’ “ Cedillo said,
Supporters of the proposed initiative needed to turn in 598,000 valid signatures to election officials by this week to qualify for the November ballot.
Prince had set a goal of collecting 800,000 signatures to ensure enough valid signatures.
On Monday, he estimated the campaign had collected 483,000 — despite becoming a staple of radio talk shows and using the Internet to circulate petitions.
“We learned that even with the new technology, you still need professional signature-gatherers,” said Prince, who raised less than $50,000 — not nearly enough to hire workers to circulate petitions.
In 1994, Prince raised more than $400,000 with the backing of conservative politicians and organizations to qualify Proposition 187.
He estimated 30,000 people volunteered this time to circulate petitions, most of which were downloaded from the campaign’s Web site, www.SAVE187.com.
The campaign, he said, also e-mailed 1.3 million petitions to interested organizations and sent out another 100,000 petitions by conventional mail.
Prince expressed disappointment that not enough petitions were returned to the campaign.
Timing worked against the campaign, said Prince, who hurriedly organized it after former Gov. Gray Davis signed Cedillo’s SB 60 last September.
That measure would have allowed illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. But Schwarzenegger, who accused Davis of pandering to voters, persuaded the Legislature to repeal the driver’s license measure after Davis was recalled in the October election.
“We’re going to go through the incremental steps (including raising money) that you normally would go through if the circumstances were under your control,” Prince said of the planned 2006 ballot measure.
Schwarzenegger’s negotiations with Cedillo on a new driver’s license bill, which the senator says would require applicants to undergo background checks and obtain insurance, has angered many conservatives.
But Prince said only three Republican legislators — Sens. Tom McClintock and Roy Haynes and Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy — expressed support for his proposed ballot measure.
Prince said other GOP lawmakers were frightened of bucking the party’s leadership.
The GOP, he maintains, dismissed an issue that would have energized voters and increased Bush’s chances of carrying the state.
“If this initiative were on the ballot, Republican turnout would be much higher than it otherwise will be,” Prince said.