PHOENIX (AP) – Now that Arizona has passed a ballot measure to keep illegal immigrants from obtaining some government services, groups in several other states are considering similar proposals.

Proposition 200 has motivated groups in states such as Georgia and Idaho. California and Colorado already are working to get immigration measures on the ballot in 2006.

“Since Proposition 200 passed, there has just been a tidal wave of interest in doing the same thing,” said Jimmy Herchek, a member of Georgians for Immigration Reduction.

Supporters argue a measure like the one Arizona approved Nov. 2 is needed because the government isn’t keeping illegal immigrants from obtaining food stamps, welfare and other social services.

Proposition 200 requires people to produce proof of immigration status when obtaining certain government services and will punish government workers for failing to report illegal immigrants who try to get aid.

It also requires proof of citizenship when registering to vote.

“People are fed up with illegal immigrants breaking the law and not being penalized,” said Rosemary Jenks of NumbersUSA Action, a group that advocates reducing immigration. “If the federal government won’t deal with it, this is the only avenue.”

Arizona’s measure is expected to face numerous court challenges, which opponents say other states should consider before drafting their own initiatives.

“We believe because of the conflict with federal law that these initiatives will be struck down,” said Hector Villagra, regional counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Georgians for Immigration Reduction is drafting a resolution that is a hybrid of Arizona’s initiative and California’s Proposition 187, which sought to deny services to illegal immigrants. California voters passed Proposition 187 in 1994, but it was challenged in court and never took effect.

Herchek said the group plans to approach legislators in January about sponsoring the resolution that would allow for a constitutional amendment.

Robert Vasquez, a county commissioner in Idaho, is taking a resolution to state legislators in February that would require proof of citizenship or legal alien status to apply for certain medical assistance. Currently, anyone who has been in the Idaho for 30 days can apply.

In California, a group began collecting signatures in September to put a measure before voters in 2006. The measure would deny illegal immigrants government IDs, contracts, driver’s licenses, loans, college fees or tuition exemptions and non-federally mandated public benefits.

Another group trying to get a measure on the 2006 ballot is Defend Colorado Now. The measure would prevent illegal immigrants from receiving some public services.

“Things look really positive,” said Carlos Espinosa, spokesman for Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., who supports the measure.



On the Net:

Save Our License Now: http://www.saveourlicense.com/

Defend Colorado Now: http://www.savecoloradonow.org/

Georgians for Immigration Reduction: http://www.breathingroom.us/

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund: http://www.maldef.org/

AP-ES-11-11-04 0537EST



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