Prop. 200 backers rally to enforce curbs
The Associated Press
February 1, 2006
PHOENIX - A dozen supporters of an Arizona law denying some government benefits to illegal immigrants rallied yesterday outside a courthouse where a legal challenge was mounted in hopes of strengthening the restrictions.
The advocates for reducing illegal immigration said Gov. Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Terry Goddard weakened the voter-approved law by telling state employees that it applied to a limited number of government benefits.
Holding a sign that read "Up With The Wall," retired computer scientist John Leopard of Sun City West said the governor's actions on Proposition 200 shows she's weak on illegal immigration.
"I think Gov. Napolitano and the attorney general should probably be put in jail because of their actions on Proposition 200," Leopard said.
The law also requires voters to provide identification at the polls and makes it a crime for public employees to knowingly fail to report illegal immigrants who seek the benefits in question.
Proponents of the law say illegal immigrants are draining Arizona's coffers by fraudulently obtaining government services, while opponents say the law will do nothing to stop fraud.
Arizona, the busiest illegal entry point along the country's southern border, serves as a hub for smugglers who transport illegal workers across the country.
After the law was approved in late 2004, Goddard issued a legal opinion saying Proposition 200's benefit restrictions applied only to some welfare programs. Napolitano then ordered state agencies to enforce the law as outlined in Goddard's opinion.
Supporters of the law filed a lawsuit asking a state court to declare Goddard's opinion "in error," but the case was dismissed. The judge ruled Goddard didn't abuse his discretion when he issued the opinion, prompting an appeal by the law's proponents.
The Arizona Court of Appeals is considering arguments made yesterday in the case.
Mary O'Grady, an attorney representing the state, said Goddard's opinion was meant to provide public employees with guidance on applying the law.
David Abney, a lawyer for supporters of the law, said the governor's order essentially offers government employees some immunity from the consequences of not enforcing the restrictions.
"You have taken that (voter) initiative and destroyed it," Abney said.
In a separate case, a federal appeals court refused in August to block implementation of the portion of the law that denies some public benefits to illegal immigrants.
In October, federal officials approved Arizona's rules requiring voters to show identification at the polls, but allowing those without IDs to cast provisional ballots, which would be counted only if the voters later produce identification at an election office.
PUT THE MILITARY ON THE BORDER, BUILD THE WALL, DEPORT THE ILLEGALS
DON'T GIVE ILLEGALS GOVERNMENT BENEFITS