Proposition 200 Study

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The results of a recent study on Proposition 200 reveal voters’ reasons behind their decisions on the measure. The study was conducted by ThinkAZ, an independent, non partisan research institute on public policy, and is the second in a series of publications to research results about Proposition 200 following the November 2004 general election. ThinkAZ’s Senior Research Analyst Shirley Gunther and Arizona Republic Columnist Richard Ruelas discuss the results.

>> José Cárdenas:
Good evening, welcome to "Horizonte", I'm José Cárdenas. Tonight, a new survey is released on Proposition 200. Find out the reasons why people voted on the proposition and how the results could impact upcoming elections. And one state lawmaker wants to build a wall similar to this one across the Arizona border to stop illegal immigration. We'll hear from both sides on the idea, all that coming up next on "Horizonte."

>>José Cárdenas:
Proposition 200, the voter approved initiative passed with more than 50% of the vote last November. It requires proof of citizenship when registering to vote and show identification at the polls. The initiative mandates government employees to report suspected immigrants who do not have proper identification when applying for certain welfare benefits, and it also requires applicants to prove they are eligible for various state benefits. A new poll released by Think AZ, a Phoenix based non-partisan research institute tells us the reasons people voted for or against the proposition. Here to talk about the poll is Shirley Gunther, senior research analyst from Think AZ. Shirley was the author of the poll. Also here to provide insight from the results is Arizona Republic columnist Richard Ruelas. Thank you both for joining us. Shirley, just a little bit more about Think AZ. What is it?

>> Shirley Gunther:
Think AZ is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, and what we do is research in a number of different areas, immigration being one of them, and the purpose is to provide non-partisan data information to the public and the policy makers.

>>José Cárdenas:
What was the purpose of the survey?

>> Shirley Gunther:
We felt there needed to be a better understanding of what was motivating voters to vote for or against the proposition. This is an issue that is igniting the nation and Arizona really launched that. We really think it's a good idea to get more information, to get a better understanding of what's going on with voters in Arizona.

>> José Cárdenas:
Tell us a little about the methodology.

>> Shirley Gunther:
We did a random digital survey, at the end of March with 603 voters and we asked them if they voted on the measure. Most of them did. And as part of that, then we also asked them an open-ended question, basically why did you support Proposition 200 or why did you not. We also tested a number of statements that were made in the campaign about the proposition in order to get a better idea what their attitude and opinion was at the overall issue related to Proposition 200.

>>José Cárdenas:
I want to get to kind of an overview of the results but when you say you asked questions about statements that were made during the campaign, statements by proponents, opponents and then you got a reaction from the people who you were serving?

>> Shirley Gunther:
One of the big statements that was made was that Proposition 200 sends a message to elected officials. That was speculated and we want to test that statement. That was one statement we put in the survey and we asked the respondents, do you agree, disagree or are you not sure about the statement.

>>José Cárdenas:
Give us a quick overview of the results.

>> Shirley Gunther:
A quick overview encompasses a couple of things. Yes voters supported because of emotions they felt. They had negative feelings toward illegal immigrants or the illegal immigration policies. They also have a negative perception of illegal immigrants' economic impact on the state. No voters similarly voted for emotional reasons. They voted no because they thought the issue was discriminatory and racist. We thought that those findings were very interesting. Voters were not linking their vote to one of the four provisions you had mentioned earlier. They were voting because of emotions they had on this issue.

>>José Cárdenas:
Linking to the messages by the campaign?

>> Shirley Gunther:
That's an excellent example. Two-thirds of the voters in our sample said they do believe Proposition 200 sends a message to elected officials that something should be done about illegal immigration. Certainly they agreed with that statement. There are other things that they disagreed with. They disagreed, in this particular sample, they disagreed that it would hurt our local businesses, that it would take jobs away from U.S. citizens. They didn't believe that that would be one of the effects.

>>José Cárdenas:
Richard, you were on several shows where we talked about, speculated about the reasons people would vote for or against.

>> Richard Ruelas:
Right.

>> José Cárdenas:
Any surprises?

>> Richard Ruelas:
It matched my amateur social science poll I took using my phone and E-mail, just sort of talking to people around, that this was emotions. People didn't really care what it did, they thought it would do something but one of the things that was sort of out there in the debate was, these laws are on the books, this isn't going to change anything. There was sort of an understanding that the thought was this isn't going to have a practical effect and no one thought this was going to send people fleeing back across the border to Mexico. This was emotion. This was about sending a message. I think in the ballot box as a voter there's only one thing you can do. You can vote yes or vote no and this was a clumsy way for people to send a message about illegal immigration to the federal government. They will say it worked, because now we are seeing some guest worker provisions. We're seeing it become more of a national issue.

>> José Cárdenas:
That was happening even before, wasn't it?

>> Richard Ruelas:
Absolutely, but they can claim everything after Prop 200 was a result of the message that was sent. The politicians finally got serious. I think it's more of a result of people like senator John McCain and Jon Kyl finally stepping forward with proposals but there is a thought this is a result of us saying it's time to take it seriously.

>>José Cárdenas:
So that validates what you suspected going in, but were there any surprises? You've studied the survey results, any that surprised you in any way?

>> Richard Ruelas:
I guess the surprise was, something that we already touched on. I was blown away by how little what was actually in the proposition mattered, how little that mattered. You could have placed random words in the proposition, people voted yes because they thought they were sending a message.

>> José Cárdenas:
In this respect, is it really any different than any other ballot propositions?

>> This was emotional on a much deeper level. I was trying to think of other ballot propositions that might have hit this. There are, when we debate growth initiatives, for example, it's not a rallying cry of developers versus desert preservationists. People may actually sit down and look at what it does and how this effects us. You see swings as the campaign goes on. Some of it tied to emotions but you see swings as people look at the ballot proposition a little deeper and decide that may not be something they really want to get into. This, though, was hard and fast. One of the things the survey found, people heard about the proposition, and pretty much stuck to their guns. They were for it immediately or against it immediately and not much campaigning was going to sway anybody.

>>José Cárdenas:
Shirley, any surprises to you analyzing the survey results?

>> Shirley Gunther:
We thought internally there would be more voters that would think intellectually and link their vote to the proposition

>>José Cárdenas:
You weren't in the Richard Ruelas camp.

>> We found interesting, most voters said they didn't understand the initiative, they found it vague, they didn't understand the impacts but still voted for it. It didn't matter what was in the initiative, they were going to support it. It was an issue to them about illegal immigration. They said in our survey, they don't think it's going to stop people from crossing the border, they don't think it will resolve the problems of illegal immigration and they are unclear what the impacts will be and they still supported it. It's an issue about emotion.

José Cárdenas:
As I recall from the survey, they didn't think it would have any practical impact, it was sending a message?

>> Shirley Gunther:
Right. At the end of the day, they are saying we want our elected officials to do something about illegal immigration. What that something is, we don't know.

>> Richard Ruelas:
If the voters' goal was to send a message and not have a practical effect on illegal immigration, they succeeded. Prop 200 has had little or no effect on illegal immigration into Arizona. Well its had practical impacts, but we are seeing more people than ever coming across, and I don't think it's because they love Prop 200. This is unrelated to the immigration problem itself. Where it has had an effect is in voter registration. The county recorders office in Maricopa County started off turning about two-thirds to half of the potential registers away because they didn't come with their birth certificate. They showed up under the old ones. Now, there's a learning curve and most of the people are now getting registered, and if they're registered that means they are U.S. citizens who couldn't get registered the first time and had to come back. We are seeing it in benefits. Not in the way they thought it would be. The state has only turned away four people, I think, if my memory holds right, from getting benefits because they're not citizens.

>> José Cárdenas:
Because they're not citizens or because they couldn't provide adequate proof?

>> Richard Ruelas:
Because they're not citizens. Just four. That's fairly low. What you might be seeing, is that parents of citizen children are afraid to go in the welfare offices because they are afraid they will be turned in to immigration authorities. So you are seeing citizens get denied. You are also seeing older citizens denied. The attorney general's office says there has been several cases like this and I'm aware of one for sure. An elderly woman whose air conditioner broke down in the summer in Phoenix and there was delay in getting her assistance because she was 95 years old, born in the rural south, had no birth certificate, had no way to prove her citizenship. They had to find another federal program that wouldn't be affected be Prop 200. Because this citizen did not have the paper she could not receive the state or city assistance she desired.

>> José Cárdenas:
She is from Louisiana?

>> Richard Ruelas:
She is from Louisiana. I thought about this and I'm working on something for Monday's paper. Terry Goddard applied Proposition 200 to a very narrow range of programs, like four or five. Now, the proponents are in court, in the state court of appeals now, trying to broaden the scope so it would include things like housing assistance, job assistance. If that interpretation had been the state law, we would have a devil of a time at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum right now with people who are literally undocumented, cannot prove their citizenship. This law doesn't say if you got off a bus from an evacuee center from New Orleans, it says if you can't prove citizenship, you are out of luck. These people can't prove citizenship. What would we have done had a tougher version of Proposition 200 had gone into effect? I talked to Randy Polland about it and he said of course that wasn't their intent. I think that's the key to this. Voters really didn't look at the intent, they didn't look at the practical effects. If they would have, they might have voted slightly differently, maybe said lets put this off and go for something real that affects immigration. People really just voted on emotions.

>>José Cárdenas:
Shirley, we have about a minute or so, what's the overall message?

>> Shirley Gunther:
The overall message is that voters want something done about illegal immigration and they are willing to go further. They are not voting on key provisions, they are voting because they want something done. So until they feel that something has been accomplished, they will continue to support these types of measures.

>> Richard Ruelas:
It shows in the coming election, you cannot lose an election if you make getting tough on illegal immigrants the main focus of your campaign.

>>José Cárdenas:
What does this mean for the upcoming elections where it seems like the governor is addressing some of these immigration issues.

>> Richard Ruelas:
Exactly that's why she's doing it. I may run, may take the Republican nomination for governor, run on a get tough policy. It appears you cannot lose with this stuff. It will be interesting, talking about the border policies, how it plays off in that election. You cannot lose it appears from talking tough about illegal immigrants.

>>José Cárdenas:
Did you just announce candidacy?

>> Richard Ruelas:
I just announced my candidacy. I can speak their language. I can order them out of the country.

>>José Cárdenas:
Thank you both for being with us.

>> Shirley Gunther:
Thank you.

>>José Cárdenas:
President Bush made a pledge to work with Governor Napolitano to help improve border security during his visit to the valley last week. Arizona is in a state of emergency along the border. Now one state lawmaker, Representative Russell Pearce, has the idea of writing legislation that would permit the building of a fence along the border. "Horizon's" Michael Grant talked to Representative Pearce about this along with Representative Steve Gallardo about some possible border solutions.

Michael Grant:
Let's focus on the wall. First point you want to make, we ran video of the wall in Nogales, that's not the kind of wall you envision?

>> Representative Pearce:
No, it's not. There's several options. One of the better walls has been erected in San Diego. It's an unclimbable, post to post. Just like the quote from the border patrol, when we talked about a fence, they said not only will it enhance our ability to gain greater control of the border but it is a pro active move to protect the environment, habitat and protect against the ravages of narcotics and alien smuggling vehicles. You'll never build a wall, fence, we have fences around our homes, to keep trespassers out, but you'll never build a wall that somebody can't get over. What you can do is build a wall that stops the amount of vehicle traffic that is enormous. The drug traders and so forth. Like the officer that was killed in the Organ Pipe National Park down there, the most dangerous park in America today, by the way. This has to stop. Enough is enough. 3 to 4 million folks come across the border illegally alone.

>> Michael Grant:
I have a $1.7 million per mile figure on the wall in San Diego. I'm doing some fast math, I think we are around $500 million. How do we pay for that?

>> Rep. Pearce:
That's a good question. You're not going to -- it's probably not feasible, you build it where most of the people come through, where there are people's homes, ranches, in areas that make sense to build it in first. I would hope that eventually we can build it mostly that direction. Freeze up resources for the hot spots like we do for law enforcement You go where you have the cultural service.

>> Michael Grant:
$300 million?

>> Rep. Pearce:
You betcha. In the report, the $400 billion taxes unpaid on an annual basis, due to the underground workforce, much of which are illegal aliens, they don't have a Social Security number, they get paid cash under the table. There's money, depending on the report $16-$40 billion sent back home, remittance sent out of the United States. Apply an 8% tax to that money which has never been taxed before, and do the quick math, based on the number, let's do a conservative figure, I suspect $2 billion comes from Arizona. You have $160 million a year you're going to generate. In addition, you do a tax credit. I have had calls from all over the United States willing to donate, I'm getting ready to set up websites that allow donations. Enough is enough is enough, according to the American people.

>> Michael Grant:
Representative Gallardo, do you think enough is enough or not? What is your opinion on the wall.

>> Rep. Gallardo:
The wall won't work, bottom line. What we need is the federal government to step up to the plate and do their job. That's what the state of Arizona needs. The idea of building a wall across the state is not going to prevent anyone from going through other parts of our southern border. Won't prevent them from going through Texas and Mexico or even California. The actual fence you're referring to that covers California is not preventing people from going into California. The fact is, we need the federal government to step up to the plate and do their job.

>> Michael Grant:
I think though, it is generally thought that because of enhanced enforcement efforts both in Texas by the ports of entry and in California, primarily at San Diego that they had been fairly effective and quite honestly, what has created much more of the problem in New Mexico and particularly in Arizona. If it's working in those two places, why wouldn't it work here?

>> Rep. Gallardo:
This is a much more serious problem. We have to address it from securing our borders, I would agree, that we have to secure our borders, but we don't do it with a wall. I think we do it in the way the two governors in our neighboring states have done, they have called a state of emergency, and we have seen a letter. I think this is one way of going about it, building a wall and closing our borders is not the solution to this. We have to have an honest dialogue on this particular issue, this is too serious of an issue to use 10 second sound bytes to try to scare people.

>> Rep. Pearce:
First of all, what the governor did, and this is after she gives them drivers licenses and fights against Prop 200, I mean she is the illegal alien governor. What this emergency does, the first thing you do is call out the National Guard if it's an emergency. That wasn't done. All it did was free up some money. None of the strategies have changed. Nobody is arresting illegals down there, unless they commit other more serious crimes. Nobody is securing the border. The wall is a good place to start. It takes other things. Local law enforcement has to get involved. Employer sanctions have to be involved. I agree, it is a multi prong effort. Building the wall does work. Like you said, because of the increased security of Texas and California, Arizona has become the choice of entry to the United States. 3 to 4 million folks. Let's talk about the cost of the wall in terms of savings. What you've got is billions and billions spent on public services, the largest most violent gangs in America are made up of illegal aliens. According to Mesa Police Departments task force, 80% of the violent crimes responded to are illegal aliens. We have stolen vehicles in the State of Arizona. When does it end? We have a country down there that doesn't respect our law. They printed a manual how to break into the United States and get free stuff. They are reporting a statement about low unemployment. That's because they're deporting to the United States. Where does it end.

>> Michael Grant:
Arizonans are growing increasingly frustrated with the situation. I think you're right, I think everybody agrees you have a multi-pronged approach to this thing. To the extent you can slow them down with a physical obstruction, why not take a shot at it?

>> Rep. Gallardo:
It will not solve the ultimate problem. The underlying problem is there are folks coming to this country to work. Until you start addressing other issues.

Michael Grant:
Move to a guest worker program. If people won't abide by that, why not increase border security in some fashion to keep out those who won't comply?

>> Rep. Gallardo:
Our governor has made the first step in getting the federal government involved. The federal government has been silent on the issue, they are coming to the table since our governor declared a state of emergency. It has brought $1.5 million to law enforcement to control the criminal element of the border. And Mr. Pearce, all due respect, as appropriations chair, you have not appropriated not one nickel to fighting immigration in this state. To point the finger at the governor or cast stones --

>> Rep. Pearce:
If you're going to use that, I gave 29 additional officers to DPS, I increased $4 million to fight illegal gang. I worked with the governor, not once has she engaged me in conversation reference to this problem. Not one time. The truth is she has not been engaged. I'm willing to put much more into that. She vetoed six bills that really went to the issue. And you say the wall isn't the issue. According to those folks who are pro illegal aliens, nothings ever the issue, no wall no employer sanctions. She vetoed the bill that included local law enforcement. She vetoed the bill for the card which the Homeland Security and F.B.I. said is the most dangerous thing you could do.

>> Rep. Gallardo:
That is not true.

>> Rep. Pearce:
That is true. I reviewed the bill she vetoed.

>> Michael Grant:
You can't both talk.

>> Rep. Gallardo:
It's a dangerous bill.

>> Michael Grant:
Why are you saying it's false.

>> Rep. Gallardo:
The card is used for identification. It is used by law enforcement. Law enforcement has testified over and over again that it is being used by law enforcement.

>> Rep. Pearce:
The FBI said it's the most unreliable form of identification used. They said it is the greatest threat to homeland security.

>> Rep. Gallardo:
There are more safe guards - on this than any other form of identification.

>> Rep. Pearce:
I wished that was true, but it is not true.

>> Rep. Gallardo:
It is used for identification purposes.

>> Rep. Pearce:
I'll bring the F.B.I. report to you.

>> Michael Grant:
Let me try this, 1.5 million certainly isn't going to turn things around. It does seem, I understand your position, the governor is late to the issue. But it does seem that given what happened this week with Chertoff, that for whatever reason, she was able to jack up the profile of the issue and get a little attention.

>> Rep. Pearce:
I do give her credit for that. Even though they are not sincere about it, it does raise the bar. She has guilt-cleared the way. The fact that you have got the folks who are not engaged in the battle, all of the sudden saying we recognize there's a crisis. It did free up $1.5 million to help. Nobody is enforcing the law, no strategy has been changed. It did give them some relief and I appreciate that, they were well overdue for relief. I support that. I want to be fair about what it is. It didn't change any strategy. It didn't change the 3 to 4 million coming across the border. It's going to take a multi effort. We as elected officials have the courage and fortitude to enforce our laws in the nation with compassion and without apologies. We are a nation of law and enough is enough. You cannot continue to trespass and destroy neighborhoods, gangs, violence, billions in public benefits, got to stop.

>> Michael Grant:
Almost out of time. Representative Gallardo.

>> Rep. Gallardo:
We are on the right track in securing our borders, the governor has done a good job bringing funding. This is the first step of many other tasks we have to deal with. She is working with law enforcement, with the federal government, to come up with practical solutions. Not these 10 minute sound bytes to try to scare folks. Real solutions, that's what we need. The wall will not work.

>> Michael Grant:
Representative Gallardo, I think you're right, it was a 10 minute sound byte, but thank you for your participation. Representative Russell Pearce, good to see you.

>> Thanks for having us.

>>José Cárdenas:
For more information on "Horizonte", go to our website www.az.pbs.org and click on "Horizonte". Thanks for joining us. I'm José Cárdenas. Have a good evening.

Shirley Gunther: Senior research analyst, Think AZ;

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