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by Jim Miller (reposted by Leslie)
Monday, Dec. 12, 2005 at 10:49 AM
SIGNATURES: The state border-police measure will not be able to muster the required 600,000.
02:01 AM PST on Saturday, December 10, 2005
from the Riverside Press-Enterprise:
SACRAMENTO - A proposed ballot measure to create a California border police to enforce immigration laws is dead after its campaign failed to collect enough voter signatures.
Supporters had until this Monday to submit 598,105 valid voter signatures to county election offices. By late Friday afternoon, however, campaign officials knew they had fallen significantly short.
"It doesn't look like it's going to make it," said consultant Dave Gilliard, who helped engineer the 2003 campaign that ousted former Gov. Gray Davis. Gilliard estimated that the campaign fell short by about 100,000 valid signatures.
The initiative stemmed from what Assemblyman Ray Haynes, R-Murrieta, and others complain is the federal government's failure to adequately enforce the country's immigration laws.
It would have allowed the state border police to arrest and hold suspected illegal immigrants in special detention facilities.
Supporters began collecting signatures July 18, only days after an identical Haynes measure failed in the Democrat-controlled Legislature. Haynes was unavailable for comment Friday.
The campaign had a motivated volunteer base as well as support from conservative talk radio and television commentators such as CNN's Lou Dobbs.
But plans to hire paid signature gatherers floundered. The campaign tried to raise money at the same time Gov. Schwarzenegger was hitting up many of the same donors for help promoting his propositions on the Nov. 8 special election ballot.
The border-police campaign raised an estimated 0,000, far less than the .5 million or so it typically takes to qualify a ballot measure in California.
"It's very difficult to do that without a paid effort," Gilliard said. "We weren't able to attract financial support because of what the governor was doing."
Schwarzenegger never took a position on the initiative, despite Haynes' requests for support.
Opponents of the initiative said it would have duplicated the U.S. Border Patrol, costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars and increasing fear along the border.
"I'm glad they failed in their efforts," said Maria Anna Gonzalez, a Riverside Latino activist. "I'm hoping it failed because this state's electorate is getting smarter at understanding that certain politicians' objectives are not healthy for this state."
The outcome marks the second time in less than a year that a proposed initiative targeting illegal immigration failed to qualify for the ballot.
In February, an initiative failed that would have denied driver licenses to undocumented immigrants.
Yet supporters of both measures note that the issue continues to resonate with the public. In this week's special election to fill an Orange County congressional seat, minor-party candidate Jim Gilchrist received 25 percent of the vote after running a campaign based solely on stopping illegal immigration.
Reach Jim Miller at (916) 445-9973 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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