Anti-illegal-immigration measures, official English pass with landslides

2006-11-08T00:00:00Z Anti-illegal-immigration measures, official English pass with landslidesBy Brady McCombs arizona daily star Arizona Daily Star
November 08, 2006 12:00 am  • 

Arizona voters resoundingly passed three anti-illegal-immigrant ballot measures Tuesday and established English as the state's official language.

The landslide victory — all four passed by about 3-to-1 ratios statewide — sends a message that the state won't tolerate illegal immigration, said proponent Don Goldwater.

"The people of Arizona have said, 'Enough,' and that they want this issue taken care of," said Goldwater, a gubernatorial candidate who lost in the Republican primary in September. "If the federal government won't stand up, then by God, the state of Arizona will."

Election night proved a sad outcome for immigrant advocates who carried out a grassroots campaign of rallies, fliers and news conferences to try to defeat the measures.

The results send a negative message to children that there are two classes of residents in Arizona, said Lorraine Lee, vice president of Chicanos por la Causa, a nonprofit community-development corporation.

"It makes me very fearful of what the future holds because I think that this may potentially send out a message that it's OK to continue to bash immigrants," Lee said.

The four measures passed in each of the 15 counties. Pima County, which was one of three counties to defeat the anti-illegal-immigration Proposition 200 in 2004, passed the measures by about a 2-to-1 ratio, results showed.

The overwhelming victory was no surprise to proponents, who were so confident that they spent no money on a formal campaign or advertisements.

"It's been pretty much a bipartisan issue. People want something done about illegal immigration," said Sen. Dean Martin, R-Phoenix, the sponsor of Prop. 300. "I'm not surprised to see this reaction at all," said Martin, who was elected state treasurer Tuesday.

Voter intimidation by anti-illegal-immigration activists at some South Side precincts affected the results, said Ramón Garcia of the Campaign for Community Change. It opposed the measures and worked to get Hispanics registered to vote.

"We understood that we probably weren't going to be able to beat all the propositions, but we anticipated our numbers would have been much closer," he said.

Assuming they survive court challenges, the measures will prevent illegal immigrants from taking adult-education classes, getting state-funded child-care assistance and paying in-state tuition at state colleges and universities, automatically keep those charged with serious felonies in jail without bail, and prevent them from receiving punitive damages in civil lawsuits.

Proposition 103 establishes English as the state's official language, 18 years after voters passed a similar proposition in 1988 that was later overruled by the Arizona and U.S. Supreme Courts.

● Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or bmccombs@azstarnet.com.

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