PHOENIX—Proposition 200 has had almost no practical effect on illegal immigrants in Arizona despite being the law for more than six months.
It’s a different story politically, where the measure remains an emotional, divisive issue likely to have a potent effect on the 2006 election in Arizona.
But so far, only two welfare applicants have been reported to immigration authorities for seeking state benefits illegally as defined in Proposition 200. And legal disagreements over a requirement that voters present identification at the polls have prevented the measure from applying to elections.
Voters approved the anti-illegal immigration measure in November with a 55.6 percent majority amid claims it would prevent voting fraud and save the state millions each year by denying benefits to illegal immigrants.
The most noticeable effect has been on citizens who have arrived in Arizona from other states and have run afoul of the law’s requirement that they prove their citizenship before they can register to vote. Since January, more than 5,000 Arizonans—most newly transplanted and none believed to be in the country illegally—have been rejected when they tried to register to vote.
About 1 in 3 new registrations in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties this year has been rejected because the applicant didn’t prove U.S. citizenship. Voters need an Arizona driver’s license issued after 1996, U.S. naturalization number, a copy of a U.S. passport, a birth certificate or a tribal card number.
Though Goddard’s office has successfully defended Proposition 200 in federal court against an attempted injunction by opponents, backers of the measure are outraged by his legal opinion that limited its scope to elections and to a handful of welfare programs, including utility assistance and cash payments to the disabled. The opinion rejected claims that it applied to broader services such as public housing, food assistance and employment benefits.
And Napolitano vetoed attempts by Republican lawmakers to expand the scope of Proposition 200 to bar illegal immigrants from access to adult literacy classes, child-care subsidies and in-state tuition breaks for college.