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Santa Ana Declines to Take a Stand on Proposition 187 : Illegal immigration: Residents ask the City Council to denounce the state initiative. Councilman Moreno's motion to oppose it dies for lack of a second.

October 18, 1994|LEE ROMNEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — About a dozen residents, community activists and students called on the City Council on Monday to take a stand on Proposition 187, the anti-illegal immigration initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot, most of them saying it was inhumane and would foster discrimination.

"This proposition does not do anything about immigration. It will only hurt the children. Don't close the doors on kids' dreams by taking away their education," said Nina Alexander, 16, a Century High School student.

After listening to more than an hour of testimony, Councilman Ted R. Moreno, who had placed the item on the council agenda, proposed that the council draft a resolution in opposition to the ballot measure, but the motion died for lack of a second.

"As a City Council, we have been very courageous and successful in not allowing ourselves to become political fodder of some state campaign," said Mayor Daniel H. Young after the motion died, calling on council members to refrain from politicking.

Latino community leaders who urged the council to take a position on the measure said they expected the council to avoid the issue, but nevertheless wanted to put politicians on the spot and air their views.

"The hope was that they would have the moral and political courage to come forward and pass a resolution opposing Proposition 187," said Nativo Lopez, national co-director of Hermandad Mexicana Nacional. "Unfortunately, they didn't even have the moral courage to put it on the agenda. We had to prod to even get it on there."

If approved by the state's voters, Proposition 187 would deny public school education, non-emergency health care and other social services to illegal immigrants. It would require health care facilities, educators, social service workers and law enforcement officers to report suspected illegal immigrants to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Several Orange County cities have taken stands in support of Proposition 187, including Tustin, Huntington Beach and Garden Grove. The Santa Ana Unified School District Board of Education passed a resolution to opposing it, by a 3-2 vote.

"In the largest Latino city . . . are you going to have people call a prohibition on education and knowledge?" said Art Montez, with the League of United Latin American Citizens. "And are these people, specifically of immigrant birth and ancestry, willing to do that? Santa Ana's slogan is 'Education First.' "

Those who spoke against the measure said it would hit Santa Ana particularly hard, because the city is demographically the youngest in the nation.

"My high school is 80% Hispanic. Century High is culturally rich and I really don't want to see it torn up by the destructive requirements of Prop. 187," Alexander said.

Three speakers called on the council to back the proposal.

"Illegal immigrants are not only costing the state economy billions (of dollars), they are also costing the city of Santa Ana millions of dollars in services like police and code enforcement," said resident George Estrada.

Moreno said he felt compelled to take a stand on the measure because he thought it was bad policy and would foster discrimination against legal immigrants.

During a council break, Councilman Robert L. Richardson, who supports Proposition 187 but declined to take a public position on it, accused Moreno of flip-flopping on the issue.

Moreno supported Proposition 187 when he was running in the Democratic primary for the 69th Assembly District, but he said that was before he had a thorough understanding of the measure.

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