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California governor gives up immigration measure

187 graphic

July 29, 1999
Web posted at: 8:53 p.m. EDT (0053 GMT)

In this story:

Backers of measure vow to fight deal

'Closing a chapter on culture wars'


LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- California Governor Gray Davis has reached an agreement with civil rights groups to end the legal battle over Proposition 187, a controversial measure that sought to deny state services to tens of thousands of illegal immigrants.

U.S. District Judge Mariana Pfaelzer has until September 30 to approve or reject the agreement, which was made Thursday.

Approved by 60 percent of California voters in 1994, key provisions of the measure later were ruled unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court.

While he opposed Proposition 187 when it appeared on the ballot, Davis made clear that as governor he needed to support the wishes of the majority of voters.

While the deal made Thursday virtually kills the measure, Davis said proponents really haven't lost much.

"Proposition 187 has not prevailed, but the spirit of 187 has prevailed through the adoption of very similar pieces of federal legislation," Davis told a news conference.

"The state must now deny welfare benefits, all health benefits -- except emergency care -- unemployment insurance, public housing, post secondary benefits, the granting of professional licenses, and on and on, to people who cannot verify that they are in this country legally," said Davis.

Backers of measure vow to fight deal

The only part of the measure to survive is a provision toughening the penalties for the manufacture and use of false documents to conceal illegal immigrant status.

Proponents of Proposition 187, including Ron Prince who co-authored the ballot measure, say Davis' deal is a slap in the face of California voters.

The agreement was reached in secret mediation that included several Proposition 187 opponents, but no supporters of the measure.

"We will be filing a motion objecting to the mediation settlement because it quite frankly is not a mediation at all. It's a fraud on the court," Prince said.

'Closing a chapter on culture wars'

But for many of California's 2.1 million Hispanic voters, an electorate galvanized by Proposition 187, the deal was a clear victory.

"We're closing the chapter on the culture wars," said Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democratic and speaker of the state assembly. "We're closing the chapter where we divide one Californian against another."

Davis' deal was submitted to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which dismissed the state's appeal of the earlier ruling, ending a legal battle that has raged almost since the passage of Proposition 187.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Mexico's Zedillo opens bridge-building trip to California
May 18, 1999
California Appeals Prop. 187 Ruling
March 26, 1998
Most Of California's Prop. 187 Ruled Unconstitutional
March 19, 1998

1994 California Voter Information: Proposition 187. Illegal Aliens.

Alejandro Alonso -
Proposition 187 in California

Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force -
Court Rejects Key Provisions of California's Proposition 187

Satterlee Stephens Burke & Burke -
California's Proposition 187 and Its Lessons

Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard Law Firm, Sacramento CA -
Federal Law Preempts Prop 187 - April 24, 1998

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