Posted on September 17, 2004

McCain Seeking Ways To Help Defeat Prop. 200

Mike Sunnucks, The Business Journal (Phoenix), Sep. 13

U.S. Sen. John McCain will meet with opponents of a controversial immigration ballot question in the coming days to see how he can help defeat the measure.

McCain will sit down with those opposed to the Protect Arizona Now/Propostion 200, which will be on the November ballot.

PAN looks to curtail illegal immigration into the state requiring those seeking public welfare benefits to prove they are eligible for such services and those seeking to votes to prove they are U.S. citizens.

The measure also requires state agencies to report illegal aliens to federal authorities and those state workers who do not do that face criminal sanctions.

McCain, the rest of the state’s congressional contingent, Gov. Janet Napolitano and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce are among those opposed to PAN. They contend that border security and immigration are not state issues. Critics also worry that if PAN passes it will stall federal guest worker and immigration reforms next year.

McCain said Wednesday he will soon meet with PAN opponents to see what role he can play in the effort against Prop. 200. Former attorney general Grant Woods, lobbyist Steve Roman and state chamber officials are leading the effort against PAN.

Napolitano and Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon also worry that if PAN passes, government agencies and office will have to hire extra staff and dedicate time and resources to proving the citizenship of those seeking services.

PAN director Kathy McKee disputes those assertions, saying the welfare benefits portion of PAN is reinforcing the need to prove eligibility and will not impact all government service and offices not covered under state welfare and public benefits rules.

McCain stressed Wednesday that he understands frustrations within the state regarding border security and continues to press the federal government and Congress to focus more on the matter. The senior senator is a powerful political force with moderate and independent voters.

Polls show a majority of Arizona voters supporting PAN. Supporters include conservative State Reps. Eddie Farnsworth, Russell Pearce and Andy Biggs and state Sen. Thayer Verschoor and Jack Harper.

Valley car dealer Rusty Childress and the Washington D.C-based Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) also back PAN.

The state chamber has been meeting with national pro-immigration business advocates, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on the matter.

Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake and Jim Kolbe and McCain are also sponsors of federal guest worker program to license Mexican immigrant workers and provide undocumented aliens already working the U.S. a path towards citizenship.