Posted July 8, 08


Attorney General Dustin McDaniel Cost Us 31,658 Signatures

What I Learned Canvassing for the Illegal Alien Initiative

Defeat or Victory?


We were told by a national immigration office that most states do not get an immigration initiative passed unless they raise enough money to hire canvassers to get the signatures. Yet in only 39 working days our organization, Secure Arkansas, collected 56,122 signatures to deny certain benefits to illegal aliens with no paid staff, with no paid canvassers, and with practically no budget.  That is 1439 petitions per work day.  That should tell our politicians how the people feel about this issue.  This has truly been a grassroots movement. (We were short of the minimum of 61, 974 by 5,852 signatures.)


Our Attorney General cost us 22 working days by delaying the approval of the ballot title twice.  His first refusal to approve the ballot title was April 9, 08 (14 days after it was submitted), and his final approval came May 9, 08.  Multiply 22 days times 1439 (the average collection of signatures per working day) and you have another 31,658 signatures or more.  Signatures came in faster every week than the week before.  It took us a month to reach our full speed.


Isn't it reasonable then to believe that Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's delays in approving the ballot cost Arkansans their first big chance to solve the illegal alien problem in Arkansas? The Attorney General has 10 business days to approve or deny an initiative, and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel waited every time until the last  hours of the last day to respond. Does anyone think that was not on purpose?


What I Learned Canvassing for the Illegal Alien Initiative


At a press conference in the beginning of this endeavor a reporter asked me if I thought our Director could get the support to get the job done.  I told him that there would be no problem except for the time element. That proved to be truer than even I realized.


Collecting signatures for this petition was a breeze after we learned where to find large groups of people. (Getting people to collect the signatures in the heat of summer and vacation time was a different story).  There is no issue with which I have been involved in the last 20 years where so many people were in agreement about a problem.


I think 90% of the registered voters opted to sign it. Most of the people wanted to sign it before we finished our first sentence. Many of them would get that gleam of satisfaction in their eyes and ask how many times they could sign.  Many went back and brought spouses or families to come and sign the petition.  Others asked for petitions to take to work to get signed.  (If anyone doubts this 90% figure, KAIT TV did a poll and found that 96 percent of the people would vote to deny government benefits to illegal immigrants; See this link for that information:


At the state revenue office in Jonesboro, which represents people from every social and financial stratum, we found that one person can get 30 signatures an hour any working day of the week.  Two workers can get as many as 50 to 60 an hour or 400 to 500 on busy days.  But we did not think about collecting signatures there until about two weeks ago. We collected three times the number of signatures needed in Craighead County to pass the initiative, and three of our Democratic legislators in Craighead signed the petition.


Some of our politicians claim illegal aliens are not receiving benefits. However, in gathering signatures for this petition, workers at grocery stores told us they get food stamps and qualify for the WIC program (WIC is a program by the Department of Public Health that provides food checks to pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under age five).


Workers at a Medicaid office said a huge number of them get Medicaid. A pharmacist told us that he knows without a doubt that many of them get free prescriptions. The people who gave us this information said all these illegal aliens had nothing but a Mexican I.D. to get these benefits.   In fact, the people who worked in these state offices that oversee state benefits were the angriest about the situation because they see every day the injustice of it all.   Many of them have offered their anonymous help to prove that these illegal immigrants are getting benefits. That will be of great value to us.

One lady said at a large hospital in Little Rock where her son was undergoing several surgeries (for which they paid out of their pockets) that there would always be a number of foreign-born people waiting there. She said a woman would come out and talk to them in Spanish, and they received health benefits.


All these people would certainly disagree with our Governor Mike Beebe who said we did not need any more laws in Arkansas. (Beebe said  he opposes the initiative; saying it would only duplicate state and federal laws;  but he didn't  tell the people that almost any benefit (welfare, health  unemployment benefits, food and housing assistance, loans,  licenses etc.)  forbidden to aliens by the federal government can be given to them by the state - if the state just passes a law to do so. And there are many so called "compassionate" liberals in Arkansas just waiting to do that.

8-USC-Section 1621


If anyone doubts that last assertion, consider the resolution that not 1% of the citizens in Arkansas know was passed by the Senate in 2005, SCR 9, that was  delivered to Congress and the president of the United States to encourage them "To Create An Expedited Naturalization Process for Undocumented Minors.


Following are a couple of quotes from this  Resolution: "Whereas, immigrants can stabilize shrinking populations, facilitate economic growth, revitalize neighborhoods, replenish work forces, and increase property values; and …immigration can be the key to a state's city's, or town's growth and prosperity."  That philosophy would undoubtedly lead to attempts to pass laws that would be diametrically opposed to the opinion of the vast majority of people whom I encountered in collecting signatures.


We canvassers got an education and found that we weren't aware of even half of the problems with this issue. 












Defeat or Victory?


I do not think our efforts were in vain.  We learned a great deal that we can use in the battle over this issue, we stirred up a great deal of discussion, learned how to prove illegal aliens ARE  getting benefits,  learned where to get the signatures for the next time, learned that far more people were with us than we thought; and we formed coalitions and unified our efforts.  I would do it all over again next year - unless our legislature follows the pattern of those states around us and passes legislation so we don't have to. 


This article can be found on line at this link:,000%20signatures.htm

It can be commented on at this blog website:



Debbie Pelley




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