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California recall focused on immigration

Davis received a warm welcome Sunday at the Mexican Independence Day parade in East Los Angeles.
Davis received a warm welcome Sunday at the Mexican Independence Day parade in East Los Angeles.

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California gubernatorial candidates are battling for Hispanic voters. CNN's Miguel Marquez reports (September 8)
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Republican gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger came out against a California proposition that would limit the state's ability to collect data on race and ethnicity.

The measure, known as Proposition 54, would bar California agencies from collecting information on race or ethnic background.

California voters will vote on the proposition at the same time they decide whether to oust embattled Gov. Gray Davis in a recall campaign that is increasingly focused on immigration issues.

Schwarzenegger campaign spokesman Sean Walsh said the actor-turned-candidate believed the measure would be bad for minorities and for the state as a whole.

"I think it will hurt more people than do good, so I am an absolute 'no' on that," Schwarzenegger said at a softball tournament with the Inner-City Games, a charity he founded and still heads.

Supporters have called Proposition 54 a first step toward a color-blind society, but opponents say the proposal would cut off information useful in health care, education and law enforcement.

Davis, who is fighting to keep his job in the October 7 recall, opposes the measure and so does Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, the leading candidate to replace Davis should the recall succeed.

Bustamante, who has been criticized for raising nearly $2 million from an Indian tribe involved in gaming, said Sunday he would contribute a large portion of his campaign proceeds to an effort to defeat Proposition 54.

"Proposition 54 is an attack on our health care system, and it must be defeated," Bustamante told supporters in Fresno.

Independent Arianna Huffington and Green Party candidate Peter Camejo also oppose the measure, and Republican Peter Ueberroth has not taken a position on the question.

Schwarzenegger -- the leading Republican among 135 candidates on the ballot -- has gone out of his way to court Latino voters, but Davis and Bustamante have been trying to paint the Austrian-born actor as anti-immigrant.

Davis appeared at Sunday's Mexican Independence Day parade in predominantly Hispanic East Los Angeles, where he touted his signing of a controversial bill that would allow illegal immigrants to obtain drivers' licenses. Schwarzenegger has said he would push to repeal the measure.

Davis also criticized Schwarzenegger's support for Proposition 187, a 1994 ballot measure that would have restricted illegal immigrants' access to public services.

"Mr. Schwarzenegger should be ashamed of himself," Davis said. "He supported 187, and he has said that one of his first acts as governor, which he will not get a chance to do, would be to repeal the legislation I just signed granting drivers licenses to hard-working immigrants that pay taxes in our society. So that is not the way to recognize the contribution immigrants are making to our society."

Schwarzenegger said Saturday he had been "uninvited" to participate in the parade, which he said was "tainted by partisan politics."

CNN correspondent Miguel Marquez contributed to this report.

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