Earth Notes
2:06 am
Wed March 15, 2006

Prop 200 Revisited

Phoenix, AZ – That initiative approved by voters in November 2004 was
billed by supporters as denying public benefits to
people not here legally. But state Attorney General
Terry Goddard issued a legal opinion saying that its
effects are confined to just a few services, things
like general assistance and housing aid. So the state
Senate voted Tuesday to put the question back before
voters, but this time spelling out exactly what would
be affected. This measure would say that illegal
immigrants could not get subsidized child care. They
also would be ineligible for adult education classes
and could not get scholarships, tuition waivers or any
other state-paid financial aid to attend community
colleges or universities. And, finally, it would say
that those in this country illegally are not entitled
to attend these schools paying the lower in-state
tuition. That provision seemed especially harsh to Sen.
Robert Cannell. So the Yuma Democrat proposed an
exception: Students could qualify for resident tuition
if they attended an Arizona school for six years before
graduating, and if at least one parent paid state
income tax for at least six years.

(I would think the logic behind the bill is we don't
give services to people, let them use state
institutions and get state breaks, if they aren't
paying income taxes, aren't paying their taxes, paying
up front. This bill addresses that issue.)

Cannell said there are many families that are paying
taxes in hopes of achieving citizenship, or at least
legal residency. He said it's the same with illegal
immigrants who agree to fight -- and occasionally die -
- in the military. The move to create the exception got
a fight from Sen. Dean Martin.

(This is what the people thought they were voting on
when they voted on Prop 200. This was the intent. And
this is what the public thought they were getting when
they voted yes on Proposition 200.)

He said that includes denying any state subsidies to
those not here legally. And that includes a lower
tuition rate which is subsidied by taxpayers. Sen.
Linda Gray said that may be true. But Gray said many of
these students were brought here as children and are in
-- and grew up in -- this country through no fault of
their own.

(We ask that they do well in school, that they work
hard, that they pass the AIMS test. And then we tell
them, sorry, that's as far as you can go without paying
a high price. So what incentive are we giving these
children to do well in school?)

Gray said if there is no incentive the students will
not do well, will drop out and could end up turning to
crime. And she said it will cost taxpayers far more to
house them in prisons than to educate them in school.
The final word on the whole issue of services to
illegal immigrants will be up to voters who would have
to approve the measure in November. In Phoenix, for
Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.