Secure Arkansas Chairman Jeannie Burlsworth
Presentation at Press Conference July 7, 08
(Secure Arkansas To Become a Non Partisan Political Force)
Two months ago Secure Arkansas began gathering signatures in order to place our initiative on the ballot this November. This initiative would prevent illegal aliens from receiving most State funded benefits. Today we are disappointed to announce that we have fallen short of the required signatures. However, we are excited abut the future of our organization and our ongoing efforts to educate the citizens of Arkansas, as well as holding our elected officials accountable when it comes to the issue of illegal immigration.
We collected 56,122 signatures in less than two months. We were short of the minimum of 61, 974 by 5,852 signatures. The total number of signatures was only around 6% less than the State law required for this ballot measure to b placed on the 2008 November ballot. Even though we were unsuccessful in reaching our goal, our organization has been dramatically strengthened due to the process. We are much stronger today than when we started a short two months ago.
We are proud to say that every county was represented with a number of signatures, as well as 26 counties who met the minimum 4% voter penetration rate when only 15 counties were required.
We were receiving roughly 950 signatures a day, signatures I might add that were being collected by volunteers. There were no individuals being paid to collect signatures…there was no compensation for the administrative staff. What we accomplished in two months takes most organization much longer with budgets in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Secure Arkansas had a budget of around $2,200...again, with no paid staff or access to any State offices or State employees.
We had 1,000 volunteers who tirelessly collected signatures that would have prevented illegal aliens from receiving certain public benefits while reducing the tax burden on "true Arkansans." We can only hope through our efforts and the outpouring of support from voters all across this State that our elected officials will get the message that we will no longer provide "the Grant" for illegal activity in our State by the use of our tax dollars.
The reason we were unable to reach our goal was NOT because of a lack of hard work on behalf of our fantastic volunteers, and certainly NOT because of a lack of voter concern regarding the issue of illegal immigration, it was simply a lack of time. We were attempting to gather the required signatures and build the organization all at the same time…with only two months go get the job done.
With our grassroots network of over 1,000 volunteers representing every county in Arkansas we will now focus our energy on getting the content of this ballot measure passed in the 2009 legislative session. We are NOT going away…we're here to stay. The issue of illegal immigration can no longer be ignored, and it's time for our elected officials to step up to the plate and get the job done. If our representatives are unwilling to act, then you can rest assured that we will get this measure, as well as other more effective measures, on the 2010 ballot where at that time I am confident that the voters will speak loud and clear on this issue. In other words….it will pass.
In the meantime Secure Arkansas will begin to formally transition itself from a signature driven organization to a "non partisan political force." Our volunteers as well as the entire state deserve to have their voices heard on this important issue…we intend to make sure that happens.
WE WILL NOT LET ARKANSAS BECOME A SANCTUARY STATE!!