A new initiative drive for a proposed state law that would stop illegal immigrants from receiving public benefits is dividing Arizonans.
In an effort to discourage illegal immigrants from coming to or remaining in the United States, the initiative -- dubbed Protect Arizona NOW -- would prevent undocumented immigrants from receiving any non-federally mandated social services. For example, if a father cannot find work after he and his family move to the United States, his family would not be eligible to receive financial aid from the state.
The initiative would also require police and fire officials to report illegal immigrants who receive their assistance.
In a word, this initiative is ludicrous, yet it could be on the state ballot in November of 2004.
Rep. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, is among the most vocal opponents of the initiative.
"This isn't about immigration," Gallardo said in a recent press conference. "It is about a group attacking the basics of democracy and freedom."
Rep. Randy Graf, R-Green Valley, is one of the committee's advisers blazing the trail for the initiative.
"This has nothing to do with racism," he said in a recent interview with Le Templar, a reporter at the East Valley Tribune. "This has everything to do with the sovereignty of the United States and with us as taxpayers being able to hold our government responsible."
On the contrary, denying social services for illegal immigrants can't be about anything else but racism.
In case anyone hasn't noticed, the U.S. government allows undocumented immigrants to live in this country. In fact, the city of Phoenix recently built a day labor center for immigrants -- legal and illegal -- so they can more easily find work.
As long as the government allows illegal immigrants to stay in this country, it needs to be held accountable for providing them with social services.
Requiring immigrants to prove citizenship before they receive aid will not curb illegal immigration. It will just make an already difficult situation even worse.