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Both Sides Air Ads on Prop. 187

AD WATCH. Campaign '94. One in an occasional series

November 06, 1994

Both sides of the Proposition 187 debate have been running ad campaigns about the initiative, which would bar illegal immigrants from receiving public school education, non-emergency health care and social services. Taxpayers Against 187 is running a 30-second TV spot. Two independent groups that support Proposition 187--the Washington, D.C.-based Federation for American Immigration Reform, and the Orange County-based California Coalition for Immigration Reform--are running 60-second radio ads.

* THE AD "AGAINST": As a lengthy list of public officials and organizations opposing Proposition 187 streams by on the TV screen, a narrator states that the measure would result in a crime increase because it would lead to 300,000 youngsters being kicked "out of school and onto the street." It goes on to say that the measure also does "nothing to beef up enforcement at our borders" and would cost California $15 billion. The ad concludes with a visual of newspaper headlines that refer to "ties" between Proposition 187 and a white supremacist group.

* THE ANALYSIS: Law enforcement officials including Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block and Los Angeles Police Chief Willie L. Williams say that Proposition 187 could lead to increased crime problems. A nonpartisan state legislative analyst's report has stated that about $15 billion annually in federal funds for health, social service and educational programs would be placed at risk by Proposition 187 because it would breach federal confidentiality requirements. The ad does not make clear that the loss of funds is only a possibility. The supremacist headlines refer to allegations made by Taxpayers Against 187 concerning a link between measure co-author Alan Nelson, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (known as FAIR) and the New York-based Pioneer Fund, which has sponsored research by scientists who have held that blacks are inherently intellectually inferior to whites. That link, however, is decidedly tenuous. When Nelson helped write Proposition 187, he was working as a lobbyist for FAIR, which receives an annual contribution from the Pioneer Fund.

* THE ADS "FOR": The FAIR ad blasts the campaign tactics of Taxpayers Against 187, which is run by Woodward & McDowell, a Burlingame-based professional political consulting firm. "Taxpayers Against 187 is really a slick Bay Area p.r. firm hired by government employees and other special interests and what they want from you, the real taxpayer, is an open-ended commitment to pay for services that like a magnet attract a never-ending flow of illegal immigrants to our state," the ad states. The ad by the California Coalition for Immigration Reform rebuts charges that the measure would turn teachers and doctors into immigration agents and that white supremacists are affiliated with the measure. "The loss of $15 billion in federal funds is a scare tactic, nothing more," the ad says, according to a script read to The Times.

* THE ANALYSIS: Taxpayers Against 187, a coalition of education, health and law enforcement organizations opposed to the measure, is operated on a day-to-day basis by Woodward & McDowell. But evidence is mixed concerning whether educational, health and social services--which are already limited for undocumented immigrants--drive people to immigrate illegally. According to many experts, jobs are the leading factor. Proposition 187 does not specifically call for teachers or doctors to check on the immigration status of students and patients. But the measure does require a check of residency status before people can go to school or be treated in virtually all hospitals and health clinics. Those reasonably suspected of being illegal immigrants would be reported to state and federal authorities.

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