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Arizona voters passed a referendum last week that requires people to demonstrate their citizenship when registering to vote, produce ID when actually voting, and identify themselves as citizens or legal residents when receiving government services, despite the opposition of leading state politicians of both parties. Despite being outspent 5-1 along with all of the opposition, Arizonans sent a message on immigration to Washington by voting in favor, 56-44, and other states now may copy Arizona's effort:
Initiative proponents, arguing that illegal immigration in Arizona is out of control, said Proposition 200's passage on Nov. 2 was a crucial first step in reducing a glut of illegal immigration and sends messages to government officials in both Washington and Mexico that illegal immigration will not be condoned.
The initiative -- opposed by key elected officials in Arizona, including Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano and Republican Sen. John McCain; several Hispanic advocacy groups; labor unions and community and civil rights organizations -- passed with 56 percent of the vote.
Stricter border enforcement efforts by federal authorities in California and Texas have funneled hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens into Arizona, where they have placed huge demands on schools, hospitals and other public services.
Of course, this exercise in democracy and citizen action has produced the usual result -- a lawsuit. MALDEF and La Raza have both prepared suits to be filed as soon as the election results are certified to block Prop. 200's implementation, and if history is any guide, they will probably succeed in tubing 200. La Raza spokeswoman Janet Murguia argued that the 5-1 advantage they had in opposing 200 still didn't give them an oppotunity to convince people that 200 was bad policy:
Janet Murguia, head of the National Council of La Raza, said opponents would have been successful in defeating the initiative if they had more time to reach out to voters. She said the organization "continued to be frustrated by the immigration situation, but we want to remind folks this still is not the answer."
It appears that despite the heavy opposition and the disparity of the campaign spending, voters in Arizona supported 200 anyway. The idea that an election in which several months have passed between certifying a referendum and voting on it does not give highly organized groups like MALDEF and La Raza time enough to get its message out has no merit. Some of 200 may be bad policy, but it doesn't violate the Constitution; once again, one has to question the commitment to democracy of people who oppose citizen activism in creating laws they deem desirable. And certainly after all the wailing and crying we've heard from the past four years about electoral practices, ensuring that foreign nationals are not perverting our voting results should be one point on which all Americans can agree.
In a time of terrorist attacks on the US, having people pour over the Mexican border unregulated and unchecked becomes more than just an economic issue -- it's a security issue as well. Arizona just sent a big message to Washington that they are tired of being on the front lines all by themselves. Lawsuits may blunt the impact of the referendum, but the message itself will resonate.Sphere It View blog reactions
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