So naturally the Arizona Republic is leading the efforts to reeducate the "ignorent masses"
66% in state favor anti-migrant issue
Civic leaders launch effort to rally opposition
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 10, 2004 12:00 AM
The anti-illegal immigration initiative known as Protect Arizona Now has widespread support across party lines, a new Arizona Republic Poll says.
The survey of 600 registered voters indicates Republicans favor the measure by an 8-1 ratio and Democrats favor it by an almost 3-1 ratio.
More specifically, 91 percent of those surveyed favored Proposition 200's requirement that individuals submit evidence of U.S. citizenship when registering to vote.
The measure, designed to combat voter and welfare fraud, is on the Nov. 2 ballot.
"It just confirms what people have told us all over the state," said Kathy McKee, state director of Protect Arizona Now. "Public sentiment is on our side. But I will feel better after the election."
Douglas Caravaggio, 80, a Democrat and retired automaker who lives in Sun City, said Thursday that it's only fair that proof of U.S. citizenship be offered when registering to vote.
"When our ancestors came from different countries from around the world, they had to work to become citizens and gain the right to vote," he said. "Politicians shouldn't make it any easier now."
Regina M. Weiss, 74, a Republican and retired New York City teacher who lives in Scottsdale, agreed.
"We need a crackdown on people crossing our borders," Weiss said. "These people are getting an awful lot of freebies, and I think we need to stop it."
Although the measure seems popular with voters, a new coalition of firefighters and business, religious and labor leaders worries that Proposition 200 could cost the state up to $108 million in federal and state health care funds alone.
Former state Attorney General Grant Woods, a Republican who's heading the newly formed Arizonans for Real Immigration Reform, said voters will change their minds once they know what's at stake.
"A lot of people are frustrated with illegal immigration and want to do something about it," Woods said. "It (Proposition 200) will not stop a single illegal immigrant from crossing the Arizona border."
The coalition's goal is to spend $1 million to $2 million on a media campaign driving home the measure's potential cost and drawbacks.
The poll was taken Sept. 3-5 and had a margin of error of 4 percentage points. Overall, 66 percent said they support the measure, 15 percent said they oppose it and 19 percent said they don't have an opinion.
The results mirror a mid-August poll by KAET-TV (Channel 8) and the ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication that suggested 64 percent overall support.
The anti-Proposition 200 coalition includes the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, the Arizona Interfaith Network, the Phoenix Firefighters Union and the Service Employees International Union.
The group won't say how much money it has raised so far. It does not have to file financial records with the Secretary of State's Office until the end of the month or until it receives more than $10,000.
According to the poll, voters also support the portion of Proposition 200 that would make it a crime for state workers to fail to alert immigration authorities upon discovering that an undocumented immigrant was applying for public benefits.
"Why are we given the burden of taking care of an immigrant not reporting themselves or their income?" asked Michael Nickerson, 55, of Mesa.
Because the measure doesn't specifically define a public benefit, there is debate about the amount of money at stake and the services that might be denied.
Laurie Lange, vice president of public affairs of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, said Arizona could lose at least $108 million in federal and state funds because state workers would potentially violate a federal law if they had to check the immigration status of patients.
"These are funds hospitals need to treat immigrant patients," Lange said. "Proposition 200 will not prevent immigrants from becoming sick or getting injured."
McKee and other supporters of the measure reject the assertion, saying Protect Arizona Now would apply only to benefits that were not federally mandated.
The goal, she said, is to prevent voter and welfare fraud. The state would save a large amount of money currently spent on undocumented immigrants and would ensure that the state enforced existing laws, she said.
Billy Shields, president of the United Phoenix Firefighters, said firefighters would be working with a constant fear of committing a crime if they had to check the legal immigration of residents.
"The PAN initiative is like poisoning our own well to stop others from drinking our water," Shields said. "Is it going to stop us from saving people's lives? No. But we're going to be in court."
Randy Pullen, chairman of the Yes on Proposition 200 Committee, called critics' claims ridiculous.
"Emergency services are federally mandated," he said, noting his group has secured nearly $500,000 in financial commitments to promote the initiative.
Staff reporters Amanda J. Crawford and Brent Whiting contributed to this article.
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