Arizona voters resoundingly passed three anti-illegal-immigrant ballot measures Tuesday and established English as the state’s official language.
The landslide victory—all four passed by about 3-to-1 ratios statewide—sends a message that the state won’t tolerate illegal immigration, said proponent Don Goldwater.
“The people of Arizona have said, ‘Enough,’ and that they want this issue taken care of,” said Goldwater, a gubernatorial candidate who lost in the Republican primary in September. “If the federal government won’t stand up, then by God, the state of Arizona will.”
Election night proved a sad outcome for immigrant advocates who carried out a grassroots campaign of rallies, fliers and news conferences to try to defeat the measures.
The results send a negative message to children that there are two classes of residents in Arizona, said Lorraine Lee, vice president of Chicanos por la Causa, a nonprofit community-development corporation.
“It makes me very fearful of what the future holds because I think that this may potentially send out a message that it’s OK to continue to bash immigrants,” Lee said.
“We understood that we probably weren’t going to be able to beat all the propositions, but we anticipated our numbers would have been much closer,” he said.
Assuming they survive court challenges, the measures will prevent illegal immigrants from taking adult-education classes, getting state-funded child-care assistance and paying in-state tuition at state colleges and universities, automatically keep those charged with serious felonies in jail without bail, and prevent them from receiving punitive damages in civil lawsuits.
Proposition 103 establishes English as the state’s official language, 18 years after voters passed a similar proposition in 1988 that was later overruled by the Arizona and U.S. Supreme Courts.