Californians Divided Over Controversial Arizona Immigration Law

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June 1, 2010
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A recent Los Angeles Times/USC poll of registered Caifornia voters shows that half of those surveyed approve of the controversial Arizona law that requires local police to demand proof of citizenship from people they stop who they suspect are unlawfully present in the U.S.  Forty-three percent of those polled oppose the law. 

A strong majority of white respondents and those over 50 years of age supported the Arizona law, while Latinos voters and voters under 30 years of age heavily oppose it.

On May 12, the Los Angeles City Council voted to ban most city travel to Arizona and future contracts with companies in that state.

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In 1994, California voters passed Proposition 187. The law would require state workers, from university professors to DMV employees, to deny help to anyone they knew or "resonably suspected" of being "an alien in the U.S. in violation of federal law."

The measure had far-reaching implications. It proposed to exclude undocumented children from public schools, as well as state colleges and universities. It would deny poor undocumented families health care. 

Governor Pete Wilson, seeking re-election and hoping that the initiative would make him a contender for a future Republican presidential nomination, became its biggest booster in the weeks leading to the election.

The day after the election, civil rights groups filed lawsuits in state and federal courts to block implementation of the initiative. Judges in both courts issued preliminary injunctions barring implementation of the law.

Proposition 187 never went into effect because Gray Davis, Wilson's succssor as governor, did not pursue the state's defense of the law.