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Protect Arizona Now
by Matt Haver
21 March 2004Arizone

Proponents of the Arizona Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act have had enough of Governor Napolitano's do-nothing approach on illegal immigration.

While illegal immigration has exploded onto the forefront of American politics in recent days due to President Bush’s proposed guest worker amnesty program, this issue has been a hot topic here in the States for years on end with no foreseeable end in sight. And while illegal immigration is a national epidemic, the situation in our Southwestern states deserves a closer look, as the conditions there seem to worsen on a daily basis.

Southern and Southwestern states such as California and Arizona have begun complaining, as of late, that the flood of illegal immigrants pouring daily through the sieve that is the U.S./Mexican  border, are taking advantage of state social programs and social services by the thousands and are running the states' coffers dry. Hospital visits, healthcare, and welfare programs, for example, are readily available to illegal immigrants in California due to the striking down of Proposition 187 (as unconstitutional) despite its passage by a majority of California taxpayers. 

In Arizona, the situation has grown much more threatening than a simple diminution of public funds -- which is happening as an unbelievable rate. In Arizona the application process to apply for social services and financial assistance doesn’t require any proof of citizenship to qualify, granting illegal immigrants governmental handouts while they pay no income tax to support the system they are taking full advantage of while living here illegally.

There is also the problem of rampant voter fraud. Illegal aliens are voting in elections illegally -- up to 13,000 in the last year alone. By federal law only U.S. citizens are eligible to vote, but when the citizens of Arizona asked Governor Napolitano to sign into law the Voter Identification Bill (which would require voters and prospective voters to show legal picture I.D. in order to cast a ballot) last spring, she refused, stating the bill would “discourage poor people from voting.” Going so far as to call the bill illegal, Napolitano apparently doesn't think poor people have the brains or means of acquiring the legal identification required for such daily interactions as cashing a check or renting a video. 

So after years of facing voter fraud, with Arizona’s Medicaid  budget exploding from $200 million in 2001 to $1.2 billion in 2003, hospitals going out of business, classrooms being overburdened, and crime on the rise, the good people of Arizona finally said enough

And so PAN -- Protect Arizona Now -- was born, with its newly formed Initiative Petition #I-03-2004, which Arizona taxpayers believe will go a long way, not in preventing illegal immigration (a responsibility held by the federal government), but toward upholding the integrity of the electoral process in Arizona and reducing the millions spent on illegal aliens who pay no income tax and give no money back to the state. 

I-03-2004 stands on three principles:

(1) Requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote;

(2) requiring proof of identity when voting; and

(3) requiring proof of eligibility for non-federally mandated public benefits.

Proponents of the initiative seem to have lost all faith in Arizona Governor Napolitano; their official web-site states,

Section 12 of the Arizona Constitution, which states: ‘There shall be enacted registration and other laws to secure the purity of elections and guard against abuses of the elective franchise.’ Since Governor Napolitano has shown her intention to veto any legislation that fulfills this portion of the Arizona Constitution, the citizens of this state can and will have our constitution enforced. This is a state matter, covered by the Arizona Constitution, not a federal matter.

These proponents are not calling for an end to illegal immigration, but to the voting fraud and social spending on illegals that is bankrupting their state and compromising the integrity of its voting system. The initiative seems straightforward enough, but it has come up against some intense opposition around the nation.

Former Democratic Presidential frontrunner and Vermont Governor Howard Dean said this about the initiative,

The Protect Arizona Now initiative is about destroying the ideal of the American community. The ballot initiative is offensive and wrong and I oppose it. It is a mistake to blame undocumented immigrants for the failings of the Bush Administration.

Joe Lieberman, former candidate for the office of President, called I-03-2004 a “mean-spirited reaction to the inadequate current immigration system,” and said, “The undocumented workers who will be victimized by this proposal don't deserve it.”

The group Derchos Humanos stated through the Arizona Independent Media Center that, “Protect Arizona Now, the proposed initiative which calls for state and local governments to act as immigration officials, will only serve to chip away at the human rights and civil liberties of all individuals. These anti-immigrant measures will create division, fear, and hate in our communities. Much like the California based Proposition 187, this initiative seeks to force state and local governments to enforce immigration, which is a federal responsibility.”

But despite anti-initiative sentiment from across the nation, the supporters of I-03-2004 have asked this question -- if the federal government doesn’t stem the tide if illegal immigration, is it not up to the state and its citizens to protect their financial interests and electoral integrity? To many across the state of Arizona, the answer is an emphatic, YES!

“As the initiative's name says, it seeks to protect Arizona taxpayers and citizens… those who believe citizenship and the precious rights of citizens are not something people illegally crossing our borders by the millions are entitled to just because they got past the Border Patrol,” states the official PAC web-site.

Supported by 21 state Representatives and seven Senators, I-03-2004 is shown by a GOPUSA Poll to be drawing support from a staggering 96% of the Arizona voting public. And according to a PROJECTUSA Poll, 95% of the same voting populace support halting the flow of funds and voting rights to those illegally crossing our borders in Arizona.

On a national level, the ROPER POLL shows 85% of the American population supports tightening our enforcement of immigration laws.

And that brings us back to the main premise behind Initiative I-03-2004. Although many opponents of the initiative -- such as Salomon R. Baldenegro of the weblog Latino Political Wire -- have called it a “divisive and racist” piece of legislation, those in favor of I-03-2004 remind us that this initiative is not racially driven. Initiative # 03-2004 does not single out those entering the state from Mexico, but applies to ALL illegal immigrants from around the globe who find their way to Arizona. And while illegal Mexicans will the be the biggest faction affected, I-03-2004 is, by definition, a colorblind and racially unbiased proposition.

As someone who has experienced and studied the repercussions of illegal immigration into America, I have to say I agree with the supporters of this bill. It is not fair to the hard working taxpayers of the State of Arizona that their tax dollars are being used to support people who are here illegally and who contribute little or no money back into the system. Not only do I believe it is fair to cut these benefits, but perhaps when these benefits are not available, those people seeking to enter this country illegally will think twice and consider taking the route that so many around the globe have taken -- legal immigration.

I believe the ratification of the Protect Arizona Now initiative would prove a win-win situation for Arizona citizens and is possibly something to consider implementing nationwide. I ask, why should we reward law-breakers like those living here illegally with financial help, free healthcare and voting privileges. This issue boils down to fairness to the citizens of Arizona, justice for those who have broken our immigration laws, and the preservation of our way of life.

Matthew S. Haver is a senior at Western Washington University and host of the conservative talk-radio show The Boiling Point on KUGS FM 89.3.

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