Northeast Arkansas KAIT TV Poll -
96% Would Vote To Deny Illegal Immigrants Government Benefits
Go to this link and arrow about halfway down for this information.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel Cost Us 31,658 Signatures
What I Learned Canvassing for the Illegal Alien Initiative
Illegal Aliens Fleeing To Arkansas As Other States Pass Laws
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?
Things 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 went back and brought spouses or families to come and sign the petition. Others asked for petitions to take to work to get signed.
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.
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. ftp://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/bills/2005/public/SCR9.pdf
We canvassers got an education and found that we weren't aware of even half of the problems with this issue.
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.
Illegal Aliens Fleeing To Arkansas As Surrounding States Pass Laws
According to Washington Post article at least 18 states have enacted laws concerning illegal immigrants.
Oklahoma: August 22, 07 Hispanics Moving Out Of Oklahoma before New Law Takes Effect Jerry Giordano, Tulsa News Channel 8: "Tens of thousands of Hispanics have left the Tulsa area. And, a law designed to crack down on illegal immigration hasn't even taken effect yet. And, it's all because of one word -- deportation. . . . 'Two months ago I heard 25-thousand Hispanics have left Oklahoma,' Navarro says. That is about 30-percent of Oklahoma's Hispanic population." tp://arkansasgopwing.blogspot.com/2007/08/hispanics-moving-out-of-oklahoma-before.html The Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act signed by Gov. Brad Henry (D) restricts illegal immigrants' access to all forms of official identification, bars them from receiving public assistance and metes out stiff fines to employers who hire them.
Arizona: August 29, 07. "New Arizona law chases illegals out, I would say we are losing at least 100 people a day." WND reported earlier how a new Oklahoma law requiring the deportation of arrested illegal aliens was prompting an exodus from that state..
"The new report comes from the Arizona Republic, 'I would say we are losing at least 100 people a day,' Elias Bermudez, founder of Immigrants Without Borders and host of a daily talk-radio program aimed at undocumented immigrants, told the newspaper. .. 'Some are moving to other states, where they think they will have an easier time getting jobs,' the report said. 'The report said the number is expected to mushroom as the deadline approaches." http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=57361
Tennessee: June 24, 07 "State of immigration" "Legislature has enacted five new laws affecting illegal immigrants that are arguably significant, though not comprehensive. …Employers of illegal immigrants can lose their business license in Tennessee. On first violation, the company's license would be suspended until the illegal worker or workers are terminated. On second and subsequent violations, the suspension is for one year. .. 'The public is outraged,' said Sen. Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville, who teamed with Turner in successfully sponsoring a bill that imposes penalties on those who transport illegal immigrants in Tennessee. Violators will face a fine of $1,000 for each person transported." http://www3.knoxnews.com/kns/local_news/article/0,1406,KNS_347_5600437,00.html
Missouri: JEFFERSON CITY, MO (2008-07-07) Governor Matt Blunt is traveling across Missouri Monday and Tuesday to hold ceremonial bill signings for the state's new wide-ranging illegal immigration law. It includes provisions that require immigrants applying for public assistance to prove they're in the country legally and penalizes cities that enact sanctuary policies. Also, employers who receive state tax breaks and those who've hired undocumented workers in the past are now required to use the E-Verify federal database for future hires. http://www.nbcactionnews.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=0b53442e-336a-423b-b102-c05da2d557d4&rss=764
Mississippi: Nearly all Mississippi businesses will have to use e-verification by 2011. A couple of non-profit groups that work with immigrants told WLOX News that some families have been leaving the area because they can't find jobs or are afraid of the new penalties... A new state law designed to curb illegal immigration took effect on Tuesday. The first phase of the Mississippi Employment Protection Act requires all state agencies, companies with state contracts and companies with 250 or more employees to verify that new hires are able to work in the United States legally...As of July 1st, if one of them accepts a job, he or she takes a chance of facing felony charges http://foro.univision.com/univision/board/message?board.id=reformamigratoria&message.id=292814
It is interesting how often we have heard the statement that there is no way to deport all these illegal immigrants. It is obvious now, as many have maintained - they won't have to be deported if our officials will just make and enforce the right laws. They will leave on their own accord! First they will go to states like ours who have no laws. Arkansas is already number one in the increase of Hispanics. It is way past time for Arkansas legislators to act.
Debbie Pelley, firstname.lastname@example.org
2209 Indian Trails, Jonesboro, Arkansas 72401 870-935-9438 or 870-919-1057