'Birth tourism' is target of immigration initiative
Group refining measure to restrict immigrant services
By Shane Goldmacher
The Sacramento Bee, April 11, 2009
A group of conservative activists are hoping to bring the issue of illegal immigration back to the front burner of California politics with a ballot measure that would create a new caste of birth certificates for children of the undocumented.
An initial version of the measure was cleared to begin gathering signatures Friday, but proponents said they plan to make minor amendments and refile the measure soon.
The initiative, which proponents tout as the California Taxpayer Protection Act, is intended for the June 2010 statewide ballot.
For undocumented parents to obtain the new 'Certificate of Live Birth With Foreign Parent,' they would have to be photographed, fingerprinted and pay an additional $75 fee.
Beyond the birth certificates, the measure also would limit welfare payments for the children of undocumented immigrants, as well as require that any application for public benefits submitted by illegal immigrants be handed over to federal authorities.
The economy's current 10.5 percent unemployment rate makes this 'the absolute worst time to continue to spend taxpayer money and resources on foreigners who are in the United States illegally,' said Tony Dolz, one of the measure's authors.
Former GOP state Sen. Bill Morrow, of Oceanside, is a co-author.
Should the measure qualify, it could rekindle California's long-simmering electoral wars over race and culture, which last peaked in 1994 with the passage of Proposition 187.
That measure, which stripped illegal immigrants of access to state services, was largely overturned in court.
'It's sad, unfortunate and abhorrent,' said Democratic Sen. Gil Cedillo of Los Angeles, an immigrant advocate, of the new initiative.
The initiative, according to the proponents' Web site, appears to be the first step to try to end citizenship rights for children of illegal immigrants. That would bump up against the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees that every child born in the United States is a U.S. citizen.
'Our citizens' movement will launch the national debate we need to bring an END to 'birth tourism' and AUTOMATIC CITIZENSHIP in the United States of America,' the site reads.
The initiative itself 'does not say that,' noted Dolz, who said that 'personally we might feel one way or another.' Proponents have raised and spent nearly $200,000 so far and plan to raise more as they gather signatures.
A second, unrelated initiative was cleared Friday for circulation. That measure would tighten voting rules, requiring voters to show a government-issued ID.
To qualify, backers of each measure will have 150 days to collect 433,971 valid signatures from registered voters.