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Santa Ana Mayoral Candidate Pulido Opposes Prop. 187

November 02, 1994|LEE ROMNEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — Councilman and mayoral candidate Miguel A. Pulido Jr. said Tuesday that he opposes the anti-illegal immigrant Proposition 187, a revelation that prompted criticism from Latino community activists who said he should have spoken up publicly long ago.

Pulido said Tuesday that he has always opposed Proposition 187 because it would deny public education to illegal immigrant children and turn health officials into de facto immigration agents.

"I'm concerned, and I don't want to see kids thrown out of school," Pulido said. "That's wrong. I don't want to see hospitals act as INS agents."

The mayoral candidate said he had declined to take a formal position as a city official because the measure is a state initiative, rather than a Santa Ana matter.

"As a city, we would only polarize the community, and I think it's a very controversial, complicated, emotional situation," he said.

Pulido--who was born in Mexico--has told groups of Latinos in his campaigning that he is against the ballot measure but has declined to say so publicly, said John Palacio of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Latino community leaders have criticized both Pulido and Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez for not showing their cards on the issue. Vasquez, the county's highest-ranking elected Latino official, has remained silent on the measure.

On Tuesday, Latino community leaders criticized Pulido's response as too late and timed to be politically safe. Support for Proposition 187, which had held a two-to-one lead in Los Angeles Times polls, has been dropping recently, and even some staunch Republicans have called the measure flawed.

"Miguel Pulido took a calculated position of 'no position' during the time when the polls indicated overwhelming support for the initiative," Palacio said. "Now that it's politically expedient to do so, Miguel Pulido has taken a position."

Amin David, chairman of Los Amigos of Orange County, said that Pulido is only taking a stand now because it is "politically safe" to do so.

"That's really sad in our view. I find it sad that he would not do it at the moment of truth," David said.

Last month, Santa Ana Councilman Ted R. Moreno placed an item on the council agenda urging council members to take a symbolic stand against Proposition 187, but his motion failed for lack of a second. Latino leaders had approached Pulido first and asked him to place the item on the agenda, but he declined.

David sent Pulido a letter last week that chided him for "sitting mute" during the council meeting.

Pulido said Tuesday that he is speaking out against the measure as an individual only, not in his capacity as councilman.

He said he is devising a plan that would require Santa Ana police to cooperate fully with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to deport illegal immigrants who commit crimes.

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