Which services illegal immigrants should receive in Arizona are the subject of three propositions on the ballot next week. A look at what voters will decide:
Proposition 100 would deny bail to illegal immigrants charged with certain violent felonies.
Pro: Supporters say it is necessary because illegal immigrants may flee the country before standing trial. “This measure will help ensure that they appear for trial and that the victims of their crimes receive justice,” said Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.
Con: Opponents say it would cost money to house people who aren’t flight risks and is likely unconstitutional. “You can’t exclude a category of people from bail. Maybe you can do it with a category of crimes, like first-degree murder, but not an entire category of people,” said Paul Bender, a law professor at Arizona State University.
Proposition 102 would prevent illegal immigrants who have won civil suits from collecting punitive damages. They would still be able to receive compensatory damages.
The measure was created in response to a 2005 civil suit in which two illegal immigrants sued Casey Nethercott, a member of Texas-based Ranch Rescue, who was charged with assaulting them. The two won Nethercott’s Douglas ranch.
Pros: Supporters say it would prevent illegal immigrants from exploiting the court system. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry says it is a first step to eliminating all punitive damages. “Regardless of its scope, or who it’s limited to, we’re looking for opportunities to be involved in punitive damage reform,” said Farrell Quinlan, a spokesman for the Arizona chamber.
Cons: Opponents say punitive damages are meant to punish people who have committed a serious wrong and discourage others from doing the same, and that the victim’s immigration status is irrelevant. “Punitive damages are meant to protect everyone,” said William J. Risner, a Tucson attorney who has won settlements against trucking companies whose drivers fell asleep at the wheel, causing accidents that killed several people, including illegal immigrants.
Proposition 300 would prevent illegal immigrants from attending adult education classes, including English classes, qualifying for in-state tuition at public colleges and universities and receiving state-funded child-care assistance.
Legal residency is already required to get child-care assistance. Currently, illegal immigrants can take adult education classes and qualify for in-state tuition at colleges and universities if they can prove they have lived in the state for at least a year.
Pro: “This will save Arizona taxpayers a lot of money,” said Randy Pullen, a Phoenix developer and proponent of Prop. 300. It is part of a larger goal, he said. “Pretty soon, the incentives to be here will no longer be here, and they’ll leave.”
Con: “It’s not just about compassion,” said former University of Arizona President Peter Likins. “We will create a stronger economy and a more cohesive culture if we provide these people with the benefits of education.”