American Civil Liberties Union of
San Diego and Imperial Counties
On Nov. 8 Vote NO on Prop. 187
It's Unfair. It's Unsafe. and It Will Cost Californians $15 Billion.
Proposition 187, the so-called "save-our-state" initiative, would:
* bankrupt California.
* deny children an education;
* threaten public health;
* violate the state and federal Constitutions;
* and turn every doctor, nurse, school principal, teacher, and police
officer into an INS agent.
Prop. 187 scapegoats immigrants -- documented and undocumented -- for
problems rooted in California's lengthy recession. It was put on the
ballot by two of Ronald Reagan's top Immigration and Naturalization
Service (INS) officials, Alan Nelson and Howard Ezell -- people who have
turned immigrant-bashing into a calculated political tool.
The ugly tradition of persecuting recent immigrants -- including Irish,
Jewish, Italian, Chinese, Mexican, Japanese and most of our other
ancestors -- has repeatedly scarred this nation's history. Prop. 187 is
simply the latest and one of the most hateful of these attempts.
Though targeted at immigrants, Prop. 187 threatens the health, safety, and
basic constitutional rights of all Californians.
The initiative recklessly mandates that anyone "suspected" of being
undocumented must prove his or her residence status. School
administrators, teachers, doctors, nurses, police officers and social
workers must decide whom to "suspect" and report to the INS all people who
cannot prove their status.
Under Prop. 187, unless a person can prove citizenship or legal residency,
he/she would be denied schooling, health care, even police assistance.
This would put hundreds of thousands of unsupervised children on the
streets without an education; open the door to epidemics of tuberculosis
and other preventable, contagious diseases; and make police officers' jobs
more difficult by creating a class of people afraid of being "suspected"
and thus unwilling to rely on law enforcement.
And, contrary to proponents' arguments, Prop. 187 would not solve
California's economic problems -- it would worsen them. According to the
nonpartisan State Legislative Analyst, such reporting requirements violate
federal privacy laws and therefore would cost California $15 billion in
withheld federal funds.
Even the California Senate Office of Research says the proposition "is
filled with provisions that collide with the state and federal laws, state
and U.S. constitutional protections and with state and federal court
Studies show that immigrants -- both documented and undocumented -- pay
from $70 billion to $90 billion in taxes and receive less than $50 billion
in services annually.
Along the way, Prop. 187 would single out for discrimination citizens and
non-citizens -- both documented and undocumented -- who do nit fit long
outdated stereotypes of "typical" Americans.
For almost 75 years, the American Civil Liberties Union has defended the
Constitution and its Bill of Rights -- including the Fourteenth
Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law for everyone in
That is the spirit of the law.
That is the letter of the law.
And that is exactly what Proposition 187 threatens.
Proposition 187: The Ugly Truth
Requires public schools to question the immigration status of all
children -- and their families -- and immediately report those children or
family members who do not have satisfactory documentation to the INS.
Undocumented children would be expelled from school.
Requires law enforcement agencies to determine the residence status
anyone "suspected" of being undocumented and turn them in to the INS.
This includes crime victims and witnesses to crimes.
Bars provision of health services by any licensed health care giver
-- which includes every licensed doctor in private practice -- to anyone
who cannot prove their residence status.
Makes it illegal to give preventive health care services to
"suspected" undocumented people. Even "suspected" undocumented patients
seeking emergency care would be turned in to the INS.
Makes it a state felony to produce or sell forged immigration
documents, duplicating several provisions of federal law.
Bars suspected undocumented people from attending California State
Universities and University of California campuses, even if they are
willing to pay higher non-resident tuition.
Requires a two-thirds roll call vote in Legislature or by voters to
amend provisions in any way, at any time in the future.
Eight Reasons to Vote No on Prop. 187
One: Prop. 187 would force people to discriminate based on stereotypes.
Under Prop. 187, state workers would be turned into informers -- required
to turn in to the INS anyone they "suspect" might be undocumented.
How would these decisions be made? By proficiency in English? Last name?
Skin color? Accent? These are false and discriminatory criteria. Many
of those "suspected" of being undocumented would be U.S. citizens and
legal residents. With California's melting pot heritage any us could come
Especially vulnerable, however, would be California residents who look --
or sound -- as if they might be Latino or Asian-Pacific. But since
undocumented people come from every corner of the globe -- including
Europe and Canada -- everyone could be a "suspect."
Two: Prop. 187 is plainly unconstitutional and would deny education to at
least 300,000 children.
Because Prop. 187 would turn school personnel into INS investigators, many
parents would keep their children out of school entirely. Credible
estimates show at least 300,000 kids would be put out of school if Prop.
187 passes -- children of documented and undocumented parents, and
children who are native born U.S. citizens.
This is not only shortsighted -- it is unconstitutional.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in decisions spanning more than a century, has
consistently ruled that many fundamental rights protect every person --
whether documented or not. That includes the right of due process and
equal protection under the law.
"Aliens, even aliens whose presence in this country is unlawful," the
Supreme Court once observed, "have long been recognized as 'persons'
guaranteed due process of law."
The most important Supreme Court decision on this question is a landmark
1982 case, Plyler v. Doe, striking down a Texas law barring children of
undocumented people from public schools.
The Court held that: "Education provides the basic tools by which
individuals might lead economically productive lives to the benefit of us
all. . . Education has a fundamental role in maintaining the fabric of
The Plyler decision held that the Fourteenth Amendment bars denial of
basic services to undocumented people. The Court believed the collective
welfare of the United States transcends narrow issues of immigration
status. The decision resonates far beyond public education.
Proponents of Prop. 187 claim that since the Supreme Court decided Plyler
by a narrow margin, it is likely to retract the ruling and uphold Prop.
187, should it pass. But close analysis of the court's composition today
shows there is little chance of that.
The denial of education "imposes a lifetime hardship on a discrete
class of children not accountable for their disabling status. By denying
these children a basic education, we deny them the ability to live within
the structure of our civic institutions and foreclose any realistic
possibility that they will contribute in even the smallest way to the
progress of our Nation."
U.S. Supreme Court in Plyler v. Doe
Three: Prop. 187 endangers public safety.
It's no accident that the top signature on the ballot argument against
Prop. 187 is that of Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block. He and
other law enforcement officials, like San Jose Police Chief Louis
Cobarruviaz, recognize Prop. 187 for what it is: A problem -- not a
solution -- for law enforcement.
That's because many people would be afraid to go to the police if officers
are forced to turn in any victim or witness they "suspect" is
Crime would flourish as criminals prey on the immigrant community, knowing
that many would not turn to the police. Witnesses to crimes would not
cooperate with law enforcement out of fear of being turned in as
"suspected" undocumented immigrants.
Prop. 187 would undermine the concept of community policing and would
destroy police-community cooperation.
Four: Prop. 187 is fundamentally at odds with the 14th Amendment.
Fourteenth Amendment: All persons born or naturalized in the
United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of
the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall
make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities
of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person
of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any
person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Prop. 187's proponents have tried to dress it in patriotic clothing, but
Prop. 187 mocks the Constitution and Bill of Rights, including the
Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection and due process for
The Civil War had just ended with Congress passed the Fourteenth
Amendment, which declares that anyone born in the United States is a
citizen. Included in that mandate is the belief that undocumented people
have the same fundamental rights as everyone.
Those who drafted and passed the Fourteenth Amendment recognized -- as one
put it -- the importance of "the unity of the people." It is a unity that
transcends the traditional concept of citizenship and that idea is as
critical today as it was in 1866. It guarantees that our society -- and
all the people who comprise it -- reflect that unity.
Five: Prop. 187 conflicts with the California Constitution, too.
Article I, Section 7 of the California Constitution guarantees any person
-- documented or not -- equal protection under the law. State
constitutions have the power to grant more -- but not fewer -- rights and
liberties than the U.S. Constitution. And court decisions have made
California's equal protection policy even stronger than the Fourteenth
Six: Who's accountable under Prop. 187?
Prop. 187 would turn health, education and law enforcement professionals
into INS agents; create an unspecified, unaccountable, and unfunded
bureaucracy for reporting those "suspected"; and open the door wide to the
abuse of new, undefined discretionary powers.
Who is going to enforce this law? What are the penalties for not
reporting? Where is the money going to come from to handle this influx of
There are no provisions in Prop. 187 for funding this massive new
reporting system. And there are no accountability provisions for
monitoring how public employees might target some people -- but not others
-- to be turned over to the INS.
By illegally requiring California public employees to act as INS officers,
Prop. 187 would violate laws prohibiting states from preempting federal
Prop. 187 would violate federal privacy statutes. As a result, California
would lose billions in federal funds that pay for health and educational
programs for all residents. Among the important statutes that Prop. 187
would violate is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA),
which guarantees the confidentiality of records in public schools.
U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley has written that disclosure
to the INS of school information about children and their families would
violate FERPA. Enforcing Prop. 187, he warned, would jeopardize every
penny of California's federal education funds -- $3 billion in all.
Estimated annual savings and costs of Prop. 187
Read your Official State Voter Pamphlet when it comes in the mail. Here's what you'll find:
+ $200,000,000 savings
- $100,000,000 administrative costs (first year)
- $15,000,000,000 costs of lost federal funds to California
- $14,900,000,000 Total Cost
The independent California Legislative Analyst has concluded that a total
of $15 billion in federal education, health and social welfare program
funds would be placed at risk by Prop. 187's rights violations.
Seven: Prop. 187 threatens public health.
Prop. 187 would violate laws governing Medi-Cal; outlaw routine preventive
health care to undocumented people, endangering public health and placing
everyone at greater risk; and require the state, cities and counties to
provide far costlier emergency car e in the future.
Federal laws governing the Medi-Cal program provide for treatment of
undocumented residents -- precisely because preventive health care is much
cheaper than emergency health care. It is also more economical to provide
basic health care to all than to deny services to some. Prop. 187 would
force state health workers to violate such laws. This would place an
estimated $7 billion a year of federal funding in jeopardy.
Prop. 187 defines the public health care delivery system as not just
publicly-owned hospitals and clinics, but every individual provider --
down to each doctor.
Since any health provider -- even their family doctor -- would be required
to turn undocumented people in to the INS, people afraid of being
"suspected" would avoid contact with the health system except in extreme
emergencies. Thus, Prop. 187 would ensure that contagious diseases
Prop. 187 would open the door to epidemics of such diseases as measles,
hepatitis, typhoid fever, whooping cough and diphtheria since even taking
infants to the doctor for childhood immunizations could result in
Such chronic health problems as tuberculosis and AIDS would be vastly
worsened by the health restrictions imposed by Prop. 187.
And diseases thought long gone -- such as polio -- could make a lethal
Prop. 187 would outlaw preventive health services by any health worker for
anyone "suspected" of being undocumented. The initiative permits health
services only in emergencies -- but would require health workers to turn
in to the INS even patients who arrive critically injured or ill at the
For example, Prop. 187 would make it illegal to give a pregnant
undocumented woman inexpensive pre-natal care -- costing $900 to $1,300 --
to prevent a child from being born very premature and disabled. However,
that child would then need emergency intensive care, which would cost more
than $500,000 -- all at taxpayer expense.
Prop. 187 would expose health providers to increased risk of being sued
for malpractice for abandoning their patients. It would force hospitals
to violate federal laws against patient-dumping.
You simply cannot do disease control selectively. I've been a
public health official in California for 20 years and I have never seen a
more direct assault, a more direct threat, on the public health of all
Californians, than Prop. 187.
-- Dr. Thomas Peters, chairman of the Association of Bay Area Health
Eight: Prop. 187 would ban foster care and child welfare services for
Counties currently pay for these services when a child is determined to
need foster care or a similar placement -- as a result, for instance, of
child abuse. State and federal sources pick up each case if INS certifies
it does not intend to deport the child.
Thus, Prop. 187 would place major new obstacles in the path of child
welfare workers seeking to remove a youngster from an abusive home or
place a child in foster care for any other reason.
The initiative could place at risk even a native-born child's access to
such important safety net services as Headstart and school lunches. It
would create a climate of fear among parents that would endanger the
proven success of Headstart, in particular, in guiding poor children to
development as productive adults.
A History of Scapgoating Immigrants
The United States is a nation of immigrants and, with the exception of
Native Americans, all of us are in this country as voluntary or
involuntary immigrants or the descendants of immigrants.
Yet virtually every group of newcomers has faced discrimination and
hostility from those already here.
In times of economic difficulty, this scapegoating becomes chronic.
Immigrant are blamed for the problems of our society and viewed with
anger, suspicion and fear. Racial, religious and cultural prejudice fuel
hostility torward each new wave of immigrants.
Proposition 187 is only the latest attack on immigrants. The Chinese
Exclusion Act, the Palmer Raids, the internment of Japanese-Americans,
"Operation Wetback" of the 1950's . . . our history is full of
embarrassing instances of intolerance.
1820's - 1860's
- Violent Backlash Against German and Irish Catholics
Those fleeing famine are faced with hostility. The conflict escalates in
Philadelphia, leaving 30 dead and hundreds injured.
- In the 1850's California businesses bring Chinese laborers to work
during the Gold Rush.
These workers routinely face brutal treatment in the mines.
- California bars African-American, Native American and Asian children
from the public schools.
As the Gold Rush ends in the 1860's, those who worked the mines are
excluded from society. The ban lasts over two decades.
- 1868: The 14th Amendment is ratified.
Citizenship is guaranteed to any person born on U.S. soil.
1870's - 1900's
- Eighty thousand Chinese come to the United States from 1870-75.
As the depression grows, anti-immigrant violence escalates throughout the
West. California becomes the center of a national movement to ban all
- 1882: The Chinese Exclusion Act suspends immigration from China.
The ban remains in effect for 61 years.
- The San Francisco Board of Education orders the segregation of all Asian
- Immigration patterns shift. The newest immigrants arrive from Italy and
1910's - 1940's
- WWI: Public Hysteria Turns on German-Americans
Boy Scouts burn German newspapers and angry mobs attack German businesses.
Many new immigrants are imprisoned for their antiwar opinions.
- The Immigration Act of 1917 requires new immigrant to pass literacy
tests and bans almost all Asian immigrants.
- 1918-19: The Department of Labor encourages the admission of laborers
from Mexico and Canada.
The Dept. claims laborers are needed for work in agriculture, railroads
- The Palmer Raids of the 1920's: Resident aliens are deported for
"radical political views."
Most affected by this are European immigrants participating in pro-labor
and anti-war activities. In its first year, the ACLU fights to halt these
- The Immigration Act of 1924: Quota limitations placed on immigrants
based on national origin.
This is aimed at stemming immigration from southern and eastern Europe.
- 1930's: More than a third of the nation's Mexican and Mexican-American
population are forced to return to Mexico.
As the U.S. faces the Great Depression, immigrants are forced to leave the
- 1930's: Thousands flee rising fascism and anti-semitism in Europe; U.S.
turns them back.
The State Department strictly enforces the new regulations, denying
entrance to Jews and other trying to escape from their increasingly
- 1941: Pearl Harbor is bombed; 112,000 Japanese-Americans forced into
The only legal challenge to the forced relocation is from California ACLU
1950's - 1980's
- The Bracero Program, 1942-1954: 4.6 million agricultural workers, mostly
Mexican, recruited to work in the United States.
- "Operation Wetback," 1954: Rounds up and deports 1 million Latino farm
workers, many of whom are U.S. citizens mistaken for immigrants.
- 1960's: Federal law sets the first ever quota for immigration from the
- 1980's: The Reagan and Bush administration increasingly favor refugees
fleeing Communist governments.
Those escaping from U.S.-backed regimes -- even brutal ones like El
Salvador and Guatemala -- are denied political asylum.
- 1986: The U.S. Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) gives amnesty
to thousands of undocumented residents.
Those who could prove they had entered the U.S. before 1982 are eligible.
The legislation simultaneously bars the employment of unauthorized workers
and imposes the first employer sanctions.
- Senator Pete Wilson votes for Immigration Reform and Control Act.
The Seasonal Agricultural Worker component of IRCA -- heavily backed by
agricultural businesses -- allows for workers to enter the U.S. and obtain
- The country faces a prolonged recession.
Housing market bottoms out. California confronts its worst economy in 70
- Anti-immigrant provisions are included in Federal legislation.
The Crime Bill, Welfare Reform Act, Health Care Reform: These are only a
few of more than 100 immigration-control related measures pending in
Congress in 1994 alone.
- President Clinton adopts the Bush Administration's policy of forcibly
repatriating Haitian refugees.
As a candidate, Clinton had condemned the policy as inhumane. As
president, he returned thousands to a brutal military regime.
- 1993: Gov. Pete Wilson takes out a full page ad in the New York Times
calling for the repeal of the 14th Amendment.
Governor Wilson claims illegal immigration is one of the main reasons for
the state's, and the nation's, economic decline.
- Former INS officials sponsor Prop. 187.
This brochure has been prepared by the California affiliates of the
American Civil Liberties Union. For printed copies, please contact the
affiliate nearest you:
ACLU of Southern California
1616 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026
ACLU of Northern California
1663 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties
1202 Kettner Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92101
Vote NO on 187
If you want to help defeat Prop. 187, please contact
Proposition 187 at 213.481.9999 or 510.535.6116
Sources used to prepare this brochure: Office of the Legislative Analyst,
Sacramento; Department of Finance, Sacramento; Senate Office of Research,
Sacramento; Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento; Los Angeles
County Board of Supervisors; National Health Law Program, Los Angeles;
Mexican American Legal and Educational Fund, Los Angeles; California
Lawyer Magazine; Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles;
Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, San Francisco; The Tomas
Rivera Center, Claremont; ACLU Immigrant Rights Project, New York; Asian
Pacific Planning Council, Los Angeles; Program for Research on Immigration
Policy, The Urban Institute, Washington, D.C.; U.S. Supreme Court,
Organizations and Individuals Opposed to Proposition 187
- a partial list
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
American College of Emergency Physicians
American Jewish Congress, Northern California
Asian Law Alliance, San Jose
Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California
Sherman Block, Los Angeles County Sheriff
Louis Cobarruviaz, San Jose Police Chief
California Academy of Family Physicians
California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems
California Common Cause
California Council of Churches
California Interfaith Coalition
California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO
California Latino Civil Rights Network
California Latino Legislative Caucus
California Legislative Black Caucus
California Medical Association
California Nurses Association
California School Boards Association
California State PTA
California Teachers Association
California Federation of Teachers
Congress of California Seniors
Harvey Milk Gay and Lesbian Democratic Club
Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees, Local 11
Hollywood Women's Political Committee
Japanese American Citizens League
Jewish Community Relations Council, San Francisco
Korean Community Center of the East Bay
League of Women Voters
LIFE AIDS Lobby
Los Angeles City Council
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
Los Angeles County Board of Education
Cardinal Roger Mahoney
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
National Education Association
Orange County Register
Planned Parenthood of California
San Diego Union-Tribune
San Jose Mercury News
San Francisco Chronicle
Service Employees International Union
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
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