Since 1880, the United States of America has welcomed immigrants from Europe, Eastern Asia and Mexico. They were given a chance to have freedom of religion and speech. Even though they suffered poverty and oppression, they were able to rise in good times, start their own businesses and get an education, health care and welfare. Their children were called American citizens and they were given an American Life in Democracy,
More than a century later, after riots, strikes and political struggle, almost all racial and ethnic barriers have been broken and we have made this nation unique. Americans have been challenged with many issues before, but in may 1994, California’s Republican Governor Pete Wilson who introduced a new issue, Proposition 187, written with the help of Ron prince who in an interview with The Los Angeles Times said, “We are talking about illegal aliens, they are a category of criminal, not a category of ethnic group”(Streff A1), have started a countdown for illegal aliens in the U.S.
Democrat Kathleen Brown, who opposes the measure, fought to the last minute of her campaign against Wilson asked, “What’s going to cost more, educating kids or locking them up?”(“Wilson” 9C).
Another powerful opponent of the proposition is Carlos Vaquerano who helps run Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles said that the ones who came out with the initiative used the whole anti-immigration hysteria to their advantage (Streff 4A). This mass hysteria is caused by the fear and frustration that illegal immigrants will take over the jobs of citizens and legal aliens in California for less than minimum wage.
After the debates and demonstrations, Californians, divided by racial issues once again, approved Proposition 187 on Tuesday’s (November 8, 1994) ballots, cutting off education and most health care to illegal immigrants(Streff 4A). Proposition 187 should never be implemented because it will deny medical services, education and welfare to undocumented aliens.
The main concern on the opposition is, as Wilson contends, that services to illegal aliens drain three billion annually out of the state treasury that would otherwise be available for needy citizens (“Wilson” 9C).
This proposition also will deny the citizenship to children born in the U.S. out of illegal aliens, and these children will also be liable for deportation with their parents. Most of the proposition critics agree that illegal aliens are already part of the economy, because they rent apartments, buy food, clothes and pay for recreation.
The creators of this measure want to put these limits in illegal aliens to make them go back to their countries while getting rid of the problem by letting them die.
The main issues on this conflict are health, education and welfare. The Orange County Medical Association and the Orange County branch of the Hospital Council of Southern California say that obeying the proposition would put their members at odds with their professional ethics. One of their members Dr. Melvyn Serfing, personally says that he would find it impossible to deny medical care based on citizenship (“Doctors” 12B). This proposition will also deny primary health care such as post partum vaccinations which may cause mass epidemics and increase the number of inpatients at hospitals. Because an advanced infection decease caused by a lack of preventing vaccines would create an emergency situation; therefore, the state would have to spend more money taking care of the sickness instead of preventing it.
Mrs. Brown says that the measure is unconstitutional and that “kicking kids out of school and onto the streets would only lead to more crime and vandalism” (“Wilson” 9C). Besides, no school for illegal children will increase illiteracy and ignorance in the United States and we will have a whole generation of young adults with no education. The experts say that this part of the proposition will be debated in courts for years.
The most controversial part of this measure is the denial of citizenship, health and welfare to children born in the U.S. of illegal mothers. If we read Amendment XIV, sect 1 in our constitution, we will find that:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and 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 the 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”.
I am sure this one part will not pass the Supreme Court because no one can deny the constitutional rights to a child born in the U.S. They have to find a solution for the legalization of their parents. If these illegal parents had a Social Security Number, they would work and pay income taxes which would exclude them from getting welfare help, but they are not the only problem, the welfare system is also affected by other racial groups that also live in poverty and it should not be an issue blamed solely on illegal immigrants.
Some activists predicted the vote would be a wake-up call to California’s Hispanic population (Streff A4). Many legal alien residents that qualify for citizenship all over the United States are applying and getting ready to become citizens and vote because they don’t want this type of proposition to jeopardize the security and stability of their family’s well being at their home states.
The solution to the problem is to give each illegal alien a Social Security number and a temporary work permit so they can contribute legally to the social security and medical funds be taxed. These taxes collected would bring California’s treasury extra revenues to help the State’s economy to rise again and to stop Mr. Wilson’s accusations against illegal aliens.
I wrote this essay for my English class on December 14, 1994, we are now in November 2010 – which is almost sixteen years ago and decided to revisit these issues to start a debate or discussion on whether or not we have evolved from the sentiments we had as a Nation when proposition 187 came out in California and started a National Debate on Illegal Immigration and its comparison nowadays with Arizona’s own Senate Bill 1070.
“Doctors Seek Defeat of Proposition 187”. Orange County Register 8 Nov.1994:12B
Streff B, Sally. “California’s Ok’s Proposition 187. “Los Angeles Times 9 Nov 1994:A1+.
“Wilson Ahead as Race Nears End”. Associated Press 5 Nov. 1994:9c.