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GLENDALE : Anti-Prop. 187 Forum Hosted by Students

October 12, 1994|STEVE RYFLE

Latino students at Glendale Community College waged war Tuesday on the so-called "Save Our State" initiative, calling it a calculated, cynical plan concocted by Gov. Pete Wilson and other Republicans to win the "anti-immigrant vote."

The college's ethnic studies department and the Assn. of Latin American Students held a four-hour forum on Proposition 187, with panelists discussing the impact on California's education, health care, welfare and other programs if the initiative--which would deny most public benefits to illegal immigrants--passes.

"This will not solve the immigration problem. There's no money for building big walls or increasing the Border Patrol," said Jimmy Franco, of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

He accused conservative backers of the initiative of using illegal immigrants as a "scapegoat" to avoid addressing the causes of California's recession--unemployment, homelessness and other problems.

Other panelists said the initiative would force about 150,000 students in the greater Los Angeles area out of public schools, create a "public health crisis" as illegal immigrants are refused health care except in emergencies, and foster a "climate of suspicion" in which teachers, social workers and others would be required to report possible illegal immigrants.

"I don't want to be a surrogate INS agent," said Judy London, an attorney with a social service agency for Central American refugees. "Nobody should be an agent of the INS unless they are employed by the INS."

The group also noted a report by the nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst's Office indicating that California could lose about $15 billion a year in income taxes, school funding and other revenues if the initiative passes.

The college students hoped to present a united front to counteract the strong showing the proposition has made in recent opinion polls among likely voters.

But some in the audience said the presentation was too one-sided. Tich Tran, 19, an Asian American student, said illegal immigrants should not be entitled to the same benefits as U. S. citizens.

"We're not supposed to present only one side of the story. We need to present both sides so the students can make up their own minds," said Jiwon Moore, a sociology instructor at the college. "Instead of debating the issue, this will only cause more anger for the students that are thinking of voting yes on 187."

Opponents conceded that it may pass Nov. 8, but if so, they predicted that it will be challenged in court and ultimately overturned as unconstitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court. And if it does pass, they said they will refuse to abide by it.

"As professors we will be required to ask our students for the documentation before we begin our lectures," said Carlos Ugalde, an instructor of ethnic studies.

"I personally will not ask my students for their documents," he said. "And I don't think there's going to be enough jails (to accommodate) all the people who are going to be refusing."

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