We're opening the eyes of the people’
BY JACOB LOPEZ
Sep 26, 2004
Prop 200 opponent Fred Covarrubias and about 20 others walked Yuma streets Saturday morning to open people's eyes that the proposition is negative toward Hispanics and will only raise taxes.
Covarrubias told residents like Leticia Guzman, a non-citizen, that the proposition is an effort by some radicals to take away privileges from the Hispanics and discriminate against them. He told them that state agencies have estimated the new law to cost $27 million the first year and $20 million each year following.
The proposition says it would require state and local government employees to check residents for eligibility when they apply for benefits or other public services. It also would require proof of citizenship to register to vote and photo identification to vote at the polls.
For those residents who are citizens, Covarrubias and the others explained that the proposition will only create more barriers for voting. With Arizona ranked the sixth lowest in voter turnout for the 2000 and 2002 elections, they told people the new voter requirements could produce an even lower turnout by burdening them with more rules.
"We're opening the eyes of the people," Covarrubias said. "I'd like to inform people that Prop 200 is not for (Hispanics)."
Rosalia Delgado, a member of St. Francis Catholic Parish and leader of the Yuma County Interfaith which set up Saturday's walk, said the proposition would only scare people from voting because it will not be convenient.
Yuma County Interfaith members organized Saturday's anti-Prop. 200 walk in efforts to inform Yumans on Prop. 200 — also known as the Protect Arizona Now initiative. Interfaith is a nondenominational faith-based organization that supports the reformation of immigration policies and guest-worker programs that favors immigrants in the area.
"I think who it is going to hurt the most are citizens," Delgado said, referring to how the proposition would raise taxes and burden government employees to check for immigration status.
Delgado said she is afraid the proposition will pass and people will not understand what it means. She said the backers of Prop. 200 are trying to slide the initiative through the polls without explaining what it is about. She said the name — Protect Arizona Now — is deceiving enough to make voters select "yes" on the ballot come Nov. 2.
Guzman said she does not understand why the proposition is requiring proof of citizenship when most Mexican residents do not vote anyway. She said most do not vote because it is illegal and because they are afraid.
For some Mexican nationals, she said candidates deceive them into voting through methods such as early ballots, Guzman said.
"(Non-U.S.-citizens) sometimes vote," she said. "But they vote because the candidates deceive them."
Other issues Interfaith members touched on Saturday are that the proposition will not fix the immigration system since it has no effect on federal immigration laws. They also said the the "entire congressional delegation agrees that passage of this initiative may actually delay any constructive immigration reform for several years," according to an informational flyer handed out.
Guzman said her family works hard in the fields, and pays taxes just like any U.S. citizen. She said it is not fair for them to work tough manual labor that Americans are not willing to do and not receive any kind of benefits.
"All the Mexicans here need help," Guzman said. "I think we deserve benefits just like anyone else who works here."
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