Prop 200 foes not giving up
Feb. 8, 2005
 By C.J. Karamargin

NAACP others warn of peril to minority rights

Arizona voters approved it and the U.S. Department of Justice gave it a green light, but opponents of Proposition 200 aren't ready to give up the fight.
A coalition of community groups is vowing to continue battling a law they consider discriminatory toward immigrants, Hispanics and other people of color.
"The fight ain't over till we win," Clarence Boykins of the NAACP said Monday at a Tucson press conference.
The coalition's first objective is to persuade the Department of Justice to reverse a preliminary decision that the proposition does not harm minority voting rights.
The Jan. 24 decision, issued by the voting section of the department's Civil Rights Division, made Arizona the first state to require proof of citizenship for voter registration. It also requires voters to show identification before casting a ballot.
Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias accused the department of ignoring the fact that few if any cases of voting by noncitizens in Arizona can be confirmed. Without being able to prove that, the District 5 Democrat said, "what is this really about?"
Elias predicted the ID requirement invites racial profiling at polling places and that Hispanics and Indians would be treated differently from other voters.
Potentially even more far-reaching is the impact the proof-of-citizenship requirement would have on grass-roots voter registration drives organized by activists, civic organizations and political parties.
"Clipboard registration is going to go out the window," Elias said.
Proposition 200 was passed with almost 56 percent of the Arizona vote on Nov. 2, though it failed by nearly 4 1/2 percent in predominantly Democratic Pima County. After a federal judge in Tucson refused to stop the state from enforcing provisions that require proof of legal presence in the United States to qualify for certain "public benefits," derailing the voting provisions was among the last options for proposition opponents.
Many never believed those provisions would pass muster in court or with the Justice Department, which has veto power over election laws in states like Arizona where there is a history of discrimination. Last August, for example, U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe, a Tucson Republican, predicted the proposition would "run afoul of the Voting Rights Act" and "most likely be overturned."
Among the groups continuing the battle against the proposition are the American Friends Service Committee, the League of Women Voters, Los Adelitas and the Coalicion de Derechos Humanos/Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras.
"Many people are beginning to realize the incredible impact this is going to have on our community," said Isabel Garcia of Derechos Humanos. "This is not the end of it."
Joseph Rich, the Justice Department official who issued the decision, could not be reached late Monday.
● Contact reporter C.J. Karamargin at 573-4243 or at