California gubernatorial candidate and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner (R-CA) thinks he’s capable of single-handedly fixing the nation’s broken immigration system. During a debate with challenger and former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman (R-CA), Poizner boldly proclaimed that, if elected, he wants to “end illegal immigration once and for all.” The San Diego News Network reports:
Repeating a point he made during the state party convention over the weekend, Poizner said California needs to “turn off the magnets” of state-funded services such as health care and education that he said draw illegal immigrants.
“We just really differ here. I want to end illegal immigration once and for all. … Meg doesn’t want to go that far,” he said. After the debate, he told reporters he’d support bringing an anti-illegal immigration initiative to voters if reforms aren’t enacted in the Legislature.
He did not specify what that initiative would say, but his remarks echoed the debate over Proposition 187 in 1994, which denied publicly funded social services to illegal immigrants. A federal court later found the law’s provisions unconstitutional.
Poizner has proposed deploying the California National Guard and California Highway Patrol to secure the border with Mexico if the federal government doesn’t. Poizner has adamantly argued that undocumented immigrants should be denied emergency health care and that public schools should shut their doors in the face of undocumented children.
Meanwhile, Whitman opposes outright amnesty “100%” but she has stated that she favors a “program in which people would go to the end of the line, pay a fine and do things that would allow for a path to legalization.” Whitman is against “penalizing” undocumented children and denying them a public education. Whitman has also slammed Poizner for flip flopping on the immigration issue since 2006, when he came out in support of the Bush Administration’s immigration reform proposal. Given that Prop 187 drove California’s Latinos to register as and support Democrats — who now dominate state politics largely as a result — Whitman will probably have to articulate a clearer position on the issue if and when she makes it past the primaries. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown has indicated that he supports comprehensive immigration reform, but is opposed to giving undocumented immigrants driver licenses.
A study by the University of Southern California found that putting California’s 1.8 million undocumented Latino immigrants on a path to legalization would generate $16 billion annually. The Perryman Group has found that California would lose $164.2 billion in expenditures, $72.9 billion in economic output, and approximately 717,000 jobs if it removed all of its undocumented immigrants.