Arizona's Prop. 200 Could Signal Shift In Political Winds

While George Bush and John Kerry, Dick Cheney and John Edwards, debate democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, democracy may be taking a bit of a small lurch forward inside the United States—much to the dissatisfaction of the above-named global democrats.

In Arizona, citizens fed up with massive illegal immigration and the indifference of their own government to the invasion are trying to do something themselves.

The something is Proposition 200, a ballot measure directly descended from California's Proposition 187, passed by an overwhelming margin in 1994 but struck down by the courts.

Prop 200 will also face the courts if it passes, as it seems about to do, but it's important that Arizonans and all other Americans get behind it anyway.

Like Prop 187, Prop 200 requires that applicants for public benefits—meaning welfare—prove their eligibility for them in the form of verifiable identity or immigration documents. Unlike Prop 187, it requires proof of U.S. citizenship as a requirement for registering to vote, and one section requires voters to show a valid photo ID at the polling place.

Those are the measure's main provisions. The truth is that they are largely bloodless.

Prop 200 does nothing (and could do nothing) to reduce illegal immigration into Arizona or the United States, nor does it deny welfare to anyone who already has a legal right to receive it.

But the importance of the ballot measure is not so much that it effectively reduces or controls either illegal immigration or welfare but that it mobilizes citizens on these issues.

Arizona in fact is already mobilized—by the presence of some 500,000 illegal aliens, estimated to cost the state more than $1 billion a year in welfare; and by the fact that some 40 percent of the illegal aliens who enter this country come over the state's borders with Mexico; and by the absolute refusal of either the state or the federal government to do anything whatsoever to control illegal immigration.

In the case of Prop 200, neither of the state's two Republican senators, John McCain and John Kyl, supports it. Neither do either of the two presidential nominees of the Republican and Democratic Parties or their running mates. Neither does Arizona's Democratic governor. Nor does the state's Chamber of Commerce. Nor the government of Mexico, which reportedly has vowed to join court challenges to the measure if it passes. As with Prop 187, for which some 60 percent of Californians voted a decade ago, the only support for Prop 200 comes from the people of Arizona themselves.

The most recent poll conducted by the Arizona Republic shows 57 percent of the state's voters saying they will vote for it.

Critics of Prop 200 often argue that the costs of enforcing it would be prohibitive, but that's not the real reason they're against it. They know they have to stop Prop 200 and any similar measure because they know perfectly well what its victory would mean. Neo-conservative foes of Prop 200 like Tamar Jacoby, writing last month in the Wall Street Journal, the bible of the Open Borders lobby, made their real reasons clear. ["Flawed Proposition", September 14, 2004]

Immigration restrictionists, she wrote, would wave a Prop 200 victory

"around like a bloody shirt," arguing "the outcome vindicated their claim that the American public doesn't like immigrants and opposes immigration reform [VDARE.com NOTE: i.e. opposes amnesty]….

"Copycat ballot initiatives would follow in a half a dozen other states—indeed a similar measure is already circulating in California. And other elected officials, in both the White House and Congress, would start to find even more reasons than they already cite for avoiding all discussion of immigration issues."

Miss Jacoby knows very well what happened in the wake of Prop 187's victory in California.

"Within the year, the Clinton administration had launched a historic, all-out effort to fortify the southern frontier…. Anti-immigrant Republicans in Congress went into high gear, slashing federal benefits for newcomers, legal and illegal alike."

Like the far left, Miss Jacoby confuses being against immigration (even the illegal kind) with being "anti-immigrant," but except for her loaded language, she's right. Once politicians sniff the wind, they always sail in its direction.

In the wake of the Prop 187 victory in California, which significantly helped the Republican Party win a congressional majority in 1994, the courts and the Open Borders crowd managed to strangle an overwhelmingly popular immigration control measure in its cradle.

If the child of Prop 187 passes in Arizona this year, as it now seems certain to do, the same crowd will try the same tactic again.

The real importance of Arizona's Prop 200 is that its victory will show both the people and the politicians which way the political winds are beginning to blow on the long-muzzled immigration issue.

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Sam Francis [email him] is a nationally syndicated columnist. A selection of his columns, America Extinguished: Mass Immigration And The Disintegration Of American Culture, is now available from Americans For Immigration Control. Click here for Sam Francis' website. Click here to order his monograph, Ethnopolitics: Immigration, Race, and the American Political Future.