Proposition 187 Essay Research Paper In 1994

Proposition 187 Essay, Research Paper

In 1994 Californians passed Proposition 187, also known as the “Save Our State” initiative. Fifty-nine percent of California voters passed Proposition 187. The proposition called for denying illegal immigrants public social services, publicly-funded health care services (unless emergency under federal law), and public school education at elementary, secondary and post-secondary levels. The proposition also called for various state and local agencies to report persons that were suspected illegal immigrants to the California Attorney General and the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service. The California Attorney General would have been required to transmit reports to the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service and maintain records of such reports. The proposition also made it a felony to manufacture, distribute, sell or use false citizenship or residence documents.

Californians who favored the proposition, believed that their states’ economic problems were largely due to the amount of illegal immigrants that have come to California from Mexico. Californians also blamed illegal immigration for the increase in medical costs, as well as the lower standards of education. Those who favored Proposition 187 claimed that the “illegal immigration invasion” would ultimately “save our state”. Many believe that welfare, medical care and educational benefits, are what attracts illegal immigrants to California and the United States. Proponents claim that because these “magnets” draw illegal immigrants to the state, access to such services should be cut-off. They also claimed that opposition to the initiative is funded mainly by special interests, which reap the benefits of providing services to illegal immigrants, such as public unions and medical clinics. Proponents also believed that the federal government had been derelict in controlling the borders, so that responsibility fell upon the state itself, to “send a strong message that California will no longer tolerate the abandonment of the duty of our politicians”.

Opponents to Proposition 187 believed that the question is whether or not to provide public services to illegal immigrants, but rather what would be done to “beef up enforcement at the border”. While opponents agreed that illegal immigration is a real problem, they say that 187 is not the solution. Not addressed in the initiative is border enforcement and cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants. Financially, they argued that combining the new costs of the verification requirement as required in the initiative, would be in the billions. They had also pointed out the public health risk of denying illegal immigrants basic services, such as immunizations, which help control communicable diseases.

California approved Proposition 187 in 1994, but federal courts declared most of it unconstitutional. In July of 1999, Governor Gray Davis and opponents of Proposition 187 came to an agreement that ended all the legal challenges to the voter-approved initiative. All that is left of the measure, will be a state law that outlaws manufacture and use of false documents to conceal illegal immigration status.

I believe that Proposition 187 was a bad initiative to begin with. Proposition 187 claimed that it would stop illegal immigration and save the state of California billions of dollars each year. In fact, in researching the proposition, it does nothing to stop people from coming into California. The implementation of identifying illegal immigrants and the consequences of enforcing the proposition would cost more than the bill supporters said it would save. Some have stated that if Proposition 187 had been implemented, it would have cost 10 billion dollars in the first year.

It is difficult for me to even find this law sensible when the cost of enforcing this law would be astronomical. Proposition 187 would not save California from its current economic problems. The verification process of a students’ legal status would have required that school officials verify and investigate about 10 million people, and continue to do so for an indefinite period of time. In my opinion, schools that already suffer from cutbacks, would also have to face the burden

of the cost and time required to complete such an enormous task, putting the schools in a greater uncompromising economical position. Over the years this would cost the residents several hundred million dollars of tax money, which should be invested into education and advancement of technology in the classroom.

Another provision in the proposition, the denial of health care to illegal immigrants, threatened not only the health of those persons, but would have also effected the health of all the people around them.

I believe that the People of California have been led to believe that many of the states’ economic problems are directly related to the immigrants who come across the border, whether legally or illegally. This type of promotion only furthers the prejudices that already exist. Obviously Proposition 187 is not the answer. I believe the answer lies in education, understanding, and eradication of poverty, not in ridding the state of immigrants.


Block, A.G. (1998, November). The Wilson legacy. (California Gov. Pete Wilson)(includes Gov. Wilson’s political timeline). California Journal, v29 n11, pp. 6(5).

Lennon, Tara M. (1998, Summer-Autumn). Proposition 187: A case study of race, nationalism, and democratic ideals. Policy Studies Review, v15 n2-3, pp. 80(21).

Zuckerman, Mortimer B. (1994, December). Beyond Proposition 187. (immigration policy) (Editorial) U.S. News & World Report, v117 n23, pp. 124(2).

1994 California Voter Information Guide. Analysis of Proposition 187 by the Legislative Analyst. (Internet) Digital Equipment Corporation, 1994.


save our state


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