Prop. 200 sidesteps the real problem

By Lauren Peckler
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, October 13, 2004

America loves to pretend it doesn't cause problems. In the '80s the drug war emerged, and everyone blamed foreign countries for providing the United States with drugs. Most realized at some point that the U.S. was to blame because it created the demand for drugs in this country. Now, decades later, the same trend is happening with illegal immigrants.

Proposition 200 blindly addresses the overflow of illegal immigrants in this country by preventing them from voting or receiving public services without proper verification of citizenship. Illegal immigrants are prohibited already from public services, which include welfare, disability, public housing assistance and taxpayer-subsidized post-secondary education. Public services are separate from federal services like emergency medical care, fire department safety and public schooling.

Keep in mind that verification of citizenship is not an easy process because it has to go through the federal government.

Without verification, it means illegal immigrants may be afraid to get immunizations or report crimes, which have consequences that apply to everyone, not just illegal immigrants.

For U.S. citizens, required proof of identification through either a birth certificate or passport elongates processes that range from voting to reserving a picnic table.

Additionally, employees will have to be hired and trained to notice various loopholes in the system, like Mexican identification cards. This training, just like that of airport employees after Sept. 11, 2001, will spend more taxpayer money. Any employer who fails to report illegal immigrants could be sentenced up to four months in jail.

Supporters of Proposition 200 like to tout this initiative as the next step in battling illegal immigration. While making it harder for them to receive services that currently aren't provided, it won't change the fact that they will still cross the border and find work.

Jobs are available and employers will continue to hire them for cheap wages.

Money always manages to be the reason that nothing gets done in our country. Silent groups like corporations or the government continually and secretly support illegal ways of profiting.

In the '80s, the CIA conducted a study that concluded 90 percent of all exports by chemical companies to Latin America were likely used for drugs. Similarly, the CIA itself helped contras smuggle drugs into the US.

As with drugs, illegal immigration is another little secret that the government just might be hiding.

Government is all about lobbies and who gives whom money. I highly doubt the government will crack down on cheap foreign labor if particular corporations continue to give them money, especially through campaigns.

Besides monetary factors, contradictions exist between the goals and the action of both the state and federal government regarding illegal immigration. Taxpayers fund day labor centers that distribute the now infamous mayuscula consular identification card for Mexicans who need some form of identification. States all over the country accept the mayuscula consular as proper identification to open a bank account, travel, and some have considered using it to distribute driver's licenses.

So aren't we actually providing more benefits to illegal immigrants? I guess since banking and traveling aren't "public services," this is OK.

Americans need to admit that illegal immigrants do create more profit for the country. So what if they are taking away all those jobs that we don't want to work anyway? America likes capitalism, and cheap labor means more of it.

Just like the drug wars, if there's an opportunity to make money in other countries or with other countries' citizens, you better believe our greedy hands will be all over it, even if it means exploitation.

The funding of identification cards that inhibit more benefits while taking away other benefits as an illegal immigrant only means that our government wants us to think it's trying to get rid of this looming problem in the United States.

But as long as more money is still America's No. 1 goal, you better believe these lame state initiatives aren't going to change anything.

More federal intervention to stop the overflow and treatment of current illegal immigrants as a part of our society will solve the problem. Spending more of our tax dollars just to enforce a system where we treat illegal immigrants as a Third World nation will only depreciate our society to the level of hopeless crime, incurable epidemics and horrific racism.

Among the plethora of issues that surround Proposition 200, like racial discrimination, the most important is what will happen in the end?

Is there any proof that it will lower illegal immigration rates? No.

Does it cost more money? Yes.

Will it create more confusion among the daily lives of its citizens? Yes.

Is it a waste of our time and money? Yes.

Lauren Peckler is a sophomore majoring in English and sociology. She can be reached at