Anti-illegal immigration measure makes San Bernardino ballot
LOS ANGELES (AP) – A San Bernardino measure that would prohibit landlords from renting to illegal immigrants and force day laborers to prove legal residency to work has qualified for a special election, a city official said Thursday.
The minimum 2,216 valid signatures had been counted, setting the stage for an election, said San Bernardino City Clerk Rachel Clark.
Joseph Turner, an anti-illegal immigration activist who sponsored the initiative, said it would show cities that they have the power to combat illegal immigration.
Turner said the initiative specifically aimed to circumvent a Supreme Court ruling prohibiting public schools from asking students for proof of legal residency.
“If an undocumented family can’t live in the city, they can’t send their children to public schools,” he said.
The proposal also would ban taxpayer funded day labor centers, mandate that city business be in English and deny permits to businesses hiring illegal immigrants. In most cases, violators would be fined $1,000.
Nationwide, cities are dealing differently with the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, a majority of whom are Hispanic. While some cities have built day labor centers and declared themselves immigrant “sanctuaries,” others have used city ordinances to arrest day laborers and voted to have their police officers enforce immigration law.
When a special election might be called was unknown. The City Council can first decide to approve the measure without alteration, said Clark.
If the council rejects it, a special citywide election must be held in 90 to 135 days.
Calls Thursday afternoon to the office of Mayor Patrick Morris were not immediately returned.
Just under 50 percent of San Bernardino’s 200,000 residents are Hispanic, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. And voters in the city 70 miles east of Los Angeles previously elected twice Judith Valles, a Hispanic woman, as mayor.
“This initiative is divisive and racist in its nature,” said Armando Navarro, coordinator of the National Alliance for Human Rights, an umbrella for Hispanic activist groups in Southern California. “We are going to mobilize and do all we can to defeat it.”
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