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Flaws in Prop. 187

October 22, 1994

Proposition 187, which would deny public social services to illegal immigrants, is deeply flawed legislation. Contrary to what proponents say, this ballot measure will not "save our state." The nonpartisan legislative analyst says California would risk losing $15 billion in federal funding. And it would cost additional millions to administer. Indeed, Proposition 187 should be called "sink our state."

At first glance, the provisions of Proposition 187 have a certain appeal. People who are in this country illegally should not receive education, social services and health benefits. However, this initiative raises fundamental and troubling questions.

For instance, where will the 300,000 children go who it is estimated will no longer be allowed in public schools because they or their parents or guardians are "suspected" of being in this country illegally? It is certainly naive to assume these children will return to their "country of origin" for schooling as the proposition states. Hundreds of out-of-school youths on the streets of our communities would generate problems we must prevent. And a great number of uneducated immigrant children would be a detriment to the social and economic well-being of the state's future.

Furthermore, the health of all Californians would be threatened if basic preventive services such as inoculations and immunizations are denied persons "suspected" of being undocumented and epidemic diseases take hold. The denial of child protective services could lead to an increase of abuse. Lack of preventive care leads to far more costly use of emergency rooms (which is allowed under this initiative). Denying prenatal care leads to far more costly treatment for low-birth-weight babies.

Illegal immigration does generate problems for California, and these must be addressed in a nonpartisan manner. Proposition 187 does nothing to reduce or prevent illegal immigration. It does not call for increased border control or enforcement of employer sanctions. It would create far more problems than it solves. What Proposition 187 will do is adversely affect the quality of life of all of us who live in California.

HELEN C. COFFEY

MARILEE K. SCAFF

Co-Presidents, League of Women Voters

of Los Angeles County

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