Arizona voters’ approval of a referendum clamping down on illegal aliens is bolstering a grass-roots effort that may result in similar measures across the nation.
The Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, placed on the ballot by activists, makes it mandatory for people registering to vote to show proof of U.S. citizenship, the San Antonio Express-News reported. It also calls for a $750 fine and up to four months in jail for government employees who don’t report the use of public benefits by illegals.
Phoenix businessman Randy Pullen, a member of the Republican National Committee and chairman of the campaign to pass the measure, called it “the beginning of illegal immigration brought under control.”
“It’s a movement that’s growing stronger. It’s not going to stop illegal immigration, but it’s a start,” Pullen told the San Antonio paper.
Proposition 200 was met with dismay by the Mexican government, which issued a statement yesterday saying it “will lead to discrimination based on racial profiling while limiting access to basic health and educational services.”
The statement said it “doesn’t contribute in any way, shape or form to any constructive manner of dealing with the migration phenomenon between Mexico and Arizona.”
Groups monitoring Arizona’s success already plan to promote similar initiatives in California, Colorado and Georgia, the News-Express reported.
An opponent of the measure, Steve Roman, spokesman for No on Proposition 200, maintains it is unclear to which programs the measure applies and believes courts will determine the law’s impact. He also contends the U.S. Justice Department will have to address the voter requirement to ensure it does not violate civil rights.
Roman believes only the federal government, which establishes immigration policy, can produce any real change.
The San Antonio paper, however, points out Arizona citizens acted precisely because they see the federal government as unresponsive to the urgent problems confronted by border states.
A group in Georgia is taking a draft proposal of a similar measure to state lawmakers in January. In Colorado, bolstered by Arizona’s success, an initiative that failed last spring will be reintroduced.
In Texas, where ballot initiatives are not allowed, a group called Texans for Fair Immigration is hoping that if the Arizona measure stands up in court, it will put more pressure on lawmakers in Austin to pay attention to the issue.