Protect Arizona Now will be on the ballot in Arizona during the general election in 2004. Basically, the initiative would require proof of citizenship to register to vote, require presentation of photo identification to vote, and would require proof of eligibility for non-federally supported welfare. There's very little middle of the road on this issue. Because we share a border with Mexico, the issues surrounding illegal immigrants are real and emotionally charged.
According to an article entitled, "The Costs of Illegal Immigration to Arizonans" published by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, illegal immigration is costing Arizona's citizens a great deal, to the tune of about $1.3 billion per year. These expenditures are occurring in primarily three areas:
A. Education. Arizonans spend approximately $820 million annually on education for illegal immigrant children and for their U.S. born siblings.
B. Health Care. Medical costs for health care provided to the Arizona's illegal alien population is now estimated at about $400 million a year.
C. Incarceration. The cost of incarcerating illegal aliens in Arizona prisons and jails amounts to about $80 million a year.
Although some of the undocumented immigrant population pays taxes, that amount is estimated to be around $257 million per year.
The report also states that the $1.3 billion cost associated with illegal immigration in Arizona does not include other costs such as special English instruction, school nutrition programs, or welfare benefits for American workers displaced by illegal alien workers were added into the equation.
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Supporters of Proposition 200/Protect Arizona Now have put forth the following information:
1. Illegal immigration is causing economic hardship, contradicts federal policy, undermines border security, and demeans the value of citizenship.
2. Protect Arizona Now would require new voters to document their U.S. citizenship when they register to vote, and requires voters to present photo identification at the polling place.
3. Protect Arizona Now would require public agencies to verify identification for eligibility for public benefits, and would make it a crime for government employees to fail to alert immigration authorities of suspected undocumented immigrants who ask for those benefits.
4. Protect Arizona Now will not change the types of benefits that are denied to illegal aliens. Illegal aliens will not be denied access to benefits that are exempted from verification by federal law, including K-12 education, emergency health care, immunization programs, in-kind disaster relief, emergency food assistance, federal school lunch programs, and public services that are necessary to protect life or safety.
Opponents of Proposition 200/Protect Arizona Now argue that:
1. Since there has been no evidence of voter fraud, Protect Arizona Now is really aimed at keeping Hispanics from voting by erecting procedural barriers, and that such barriers will also disenfranchise other voters, such as the elderly.
2. Protect Arizona Now doesn't offer a solution to illegal immigration. Instead the initiative only addresses activities by illegal immigrants that are already illegal.
3. Protect Arizona Now makes state and local workers responsible for immigration enforcement, when they should not be.
4. Protect Arizona Now has been advanced by a racial "separatist" national advisory group, and primarily funded by out-of-state monies.
5. Protect Arizona Now doesn't address or resolve the issue of illegal immigration. Immigration reform is what's needed.
6. Senator John McCain, Senator John Kyl, Governor Janet Napolitano, the Arizona Republican Party, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the AFL-CIO, and other bi-partisan elected officials and organizations are all opposed to Protect Arizona Now.
How will you vote? Here are some resources to help you make an informed decision:
For Proposition 200, Protect Arizona Now
Protect Arizona Now
Against Proposition 200, Protect Arizona Now
Coalition to Defeat Prop 200
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