Poll: Support for Protect Arizona Now

Kingman's state representative, Joe Hart, is one of 25 state legislators who support a citizens' initiative that would require proof of U.S.

citizenship to register to vote.

The measure, commonly known as Protect Arizona Now but officially called the Arizona Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, also would require photo identification to vote and proof of eligibility for non-federally mandated public benefits.

In polling by Phoenix's KAET-TV Channel 8 and the Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism between Sept.

18-21, 70 percent of those polled support the initiative, with 20 percent opposed and 10 percent undecided.

"I just think it's time we do something to protect our citizenry," Hart said.

"The key word here is 'illegal.'"

Although 18 state representatives and seven state senators support the initiative, none of the state's U.S.

Congressional delegation does.

Gov.

Janet Napolitano is also in opposition.

"They (the Congressmen) think it's a federal issue," Hart said.

"We don't think it stands much of a chance of passing Congress, so we want to have something in place in Arizona to protect us.

It's quite obvious we have a problem (with illegal immigration)."

Hart noted that Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Casa Grande was shut down for eight hours while Mexican President Vicente Fox visited Phoenix recently.

Just this week, three illegal immigrants were found shot execution-style in west Phoenix.

Ron Gould, Protect Arizona Now's Mohave County director, said signature-gathering efforts began in Mohave County a couple weeks ago.

Gould, who serves on the Lake Havasu City Council, said he gathered signatures at the Murphy Gun Show held recently at Mohave County Fairgrounds in Kingman.

"It's pretty easy to get people to sign it," he said.

The initiative needs to get 122,612 signatures by July 1, 2004 in order to qualify for the Nov.

2004 ballot.

The initiative's language states that proof of citizenship is a driver's license number or a copy of birth certificate, U.S.

passport or naturalization documents, or a Bureau of Indian Affairs card number.

Other documents or methods pursuant to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 are also permissible as proof of one's citizenship.

People already registered to vote in Arizona would be "grand fathered" and wouldn't be subject to the identification requirements unless they re-register to vote.

Proof of voter registration from another state or county will not satisfy evidence of citizenship.

The initiative would require all employees of the state and its political subdivisions, including cities and counties, to make a written report to federal immigration authorities for any violation of federal immigration law by any applicants for benefits.

Failure to report discovered violations is a misdemeanor.

A supervisor who knows such an example and doesn't direct the employee to make the necessary report also will be guilty of a misdemeanor.

The initiative would not apply to emergency medical care, which the Supreme Court has said hospitals must provide to illegal immigrants.

The initiative states that it "shall be enforced without regard to race, religion, gender, ethnicity, or national origin."

According to the Protect Arizona Now Web site, "while no one wants to bar hard working individuals from services to which they are entitled, it is not fair or lawful for non-citizens to reap the benefits of citizenship at the expense of law-abiding taxpayers."

Mesa state representative Russell Pearce is serving as senior advisor for Protect Arizona Now.

"We must set dignified and responsible policies to protect our citizens and the average taxpayer who bears the greater burden of our bloated welfare system, and to restore integrity of our elections," he said.

"Our No.

1 responsibility is to protect the rights and liberties of the citizens of this great country."

Citing comments made by former Gov.

Jane D.

Hull, Pearce said, "The former governor once reported that when she passed out voter registration forms at the largest citizenship swearing-in ceremony in Arizona, that half the people returned their forms saying they were already voting."

Pearce notes that Title 7, Section 12 of the Arizona Constitution says, "There shall be enacted registration and other laws to secure the purity of elections and guard against abuses of the elective franchise." This is what Protect Arizona Now's initiative will do, he said.

Jim Kolbe, R – Tucson, issued a press release on July 16 on behalf of Arizona's six Republican Congressmen denouncing the citizens' initiative.

"We have concluded that the initiative … will not solve the problems it seeks to address, and we are concerned that it may, in fact, do harm … Other states have tried measures similar to the one being proposed by Protect Arizona Now 2004.

Unfortunately, courts have consistently found these measures unconstitutional and, therefore, ineffective in combating immigration problems.

Arizona … should not pursue efforts that will not achieve results or will repeat the mistakes made by others."

Protestors frustrated with Rep.

Kolbe's stance on illegal immigration left 22 bags of trash outside his Sierra Vista office on Sept.

27, according to the Sierra Vista Herald Review.

The trash bags, which were marked Cochise County UDA (Undocumented Alien) Cleanup, were piled three feet high outside the office's only entrance.

Odors from the bags were ripe and pungent, and the bags included plastic water bottles, clothing, shoes, feminine hygiene products and used food cans.

The trash had apparently been left at a crossing point that illegals use as a way station on their journey into the U.S.

In June, Napolitano vetoed a bill (HB 2345) that would have required photo identification to vote.

Many of the 25 state legislators who support Protect Arizona Now were present at a rally at the state capitol in Phoenix on Thursday, Nov.

20.

Seventeen legislators have signed a letter in opposition to Protect Arizona Now, according to The Business Journal (Phoenix).