Proposition 200 worries diminish holiday joy for immigrant
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
November 23, 2004
Thanksgiving came a few days
early for some mothers of Mission View
Elementary School students, who gathered in a
meeting room Monday to swap stories and get a
head start on the holiday eating.
But the tasty turkey and the
trimmings the women prepared couldn't hide the
distasteful uncertainty felt by the women three
weeks after the passage of Proposition 200.
How will Proposition 200 affect
their children? Is health care still available
to them? If someone demands proof of
citizenship, what should do they do?
Who can answer their questions?
Few people, who can give only conditional
The confusion is understandable.
Proposition 200 is not yet law,
but it will be soon. And even when it is
declared to be in effect, legal challenges may
result in either broadening its scope or tossing
it out as illegal.
Until the legal status of
Proposition 200 is determined, many Tucsonans
remain unsure of its ramifications.
But it's Latino immigrant
families, such as the Mission View mothers, who
are the most unsure - even those who are here
legally. They have little reliable information,
and rumors swirl around premature enforcement of
I did not come here to ask the
women about their legal status - only to talk
about the uncertainty that awaits them under
Proposition 200. And there's plenty of
uncertainty. About the only thing they are sure
of is that it's not what its supporters said it
Proposition 200 will require
proof of citizenship when registering to vote or
applying for nonfederal public benefits. It will
subject public employees to criminal action for
failing to report undocumented immigrants.
That may not sound prejudicial to
some, but the mothers at Mission View know
If you don't believe them,
believe Randy Pullen of Phoenix, chairman of the
Yes on 200 Committee. He and his Washington,
D.C., moneybag supporters last week filed a
legal challenge to seek a broad interpretation
of the meaning of public benefits in Proposition
200. They want it applied to a wide swath of
State Attorney General Terry
Goddard issued an opinion that said Proposition
200 applies to welfare programs funded in whole
or in part with federal money. Nothing more,
said the state.
Still, the mothers at Mission
View, on South Eighth Avenue in South Tucson,
"That's what they say now, but we
do not know for sure," said Manuela Mendoza, a
mother of four children.
One of their major concerns is
how Proposition 200 will affect children born
here legally to parents who are undocumented.
"What will we do?" asked mom
A concern after the Nov. 2
election centered on schooling.
Marcela Mejía, mother of an
8-year-old, said her child was afraid that
passage of Proposition 200 would result in the
deportation of Mission View children. But the
school's principal assured families that the
proposition would not bar their children from
attending school, Mejía said.
Proposition 200 created deep fear
in Tucson's Latino immigrant community.
But some schools, churches and
organizations are working to eradicate the fear
and provide information.
Organizers with the Pima County
Interfaith Coalition are listening and talking
to immigrant families.
The group also is developing ways
for immigrant families to fight illegal and
overzealous application of Proposition 200.
The mothers of Mission View know
questions will abound, even when Proposition
200's validity is settled in the courts. But
that's nothing new to them: The lives of
immigrant families are always full of
● Ernesto Portillo Jr.'s
column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and
Saturdays. Reach him at 573-4242 or at
firstname.lastname@example.org. He appears on
"Arizona Illustrated," KUAT-TV, Channel 6,
at 6:30 p.m. and midnight Fridays.