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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional

New Sign Erected by Foes of Illegal Immigration

November 10, 1998

ORANGE COUNTY — A coalition opposed to illegal immigration has resurrected a billboard that earlier this year upset Latinos on the Arizona-California border with the declaration of California as the "illegal immigration state."

The latest sign is 10 feet high and 40 feet long and faces motorists traveling from Arizona into the state along Interstate 10 near Blythe. The $6,000 sign was built on private land the coalition is leasing from a rancher.

The billboard reads: "Welcome to California. The Illegal Immigration State. Don't Let This Happen To Your State," and includes a toll-free number.

"We still need to send a warning to other states," said Barbara Coe, chairwoman of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform. "With greater illegal immigration, the message is even more critical now."

When the sign was originally displayed, it prompted criticism from numerous Latino community groups and leaders, including Mario Obledo, former state secretary of health and welfare, who promised to tear down the sign.

But before Obledo and others could act, the sign was removed by an advertising company after other billboard clients received threats of economic boycotts.

Marcos Contreras, state president of the League of United Latin American Citizens said the sign "demeans the image of the Latino citizen and won't be tolerated."

Coe, whose coalition co-sponsored Proposition 187, said she would notify law enforcement officials if anyone threatened to take the sign down.

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