Governor Pete Wilson on Illegal Immigration
California absorbs more illegal immigrants than any other state
in the union. The costs of providing health care, welfare, and education
services to illegal immigrants and their families, which the federal
government requires California to provide, threatens to overwhelm the
state. In fact, when citizen children are included (i.e., children born
in the United States to illegal immgirants), illegal immigration costs
the state at least $3.6 billion annually to provide health, welfare, and
education benefits and to cover the cost of incarcerating illegal aliens.
After the federal government's continued failure to reimburse the
state for the costs of illegal immigration, Governor Wilson issued an
open letter to President Clinton from the people of California calling
for fundamental reform of our nation's immigration laws. The letter
contained three major proposals: a constitutional amendment denying
citizenship to children of illegal immigrants; a request that the federal
government regain control of the nation's borders; and relief from the
federal mandates that reward illegal immigrants with health, education,
and other benefits.
* Federal Reimbursement. On January 7, 1994 Governor Wilson
announced that he would work with bipartisan leadership of the state
Legislature to seek reimbursement for $2.3 billion in costs the state is
mandated to spend by the federal government on services to illegal
immigrants. The Governor also announced that he had secured the
cooperation of Governors from Texas, New York, Illinois, New Jersey,
Arizona, and Florida in a coordinated effort to get action in Washington.
* Constitutional Amendment. Governor Wilson has proposed a
constitutional amendment to grant citizenship only to those children who
are born to legal residents of the United States -- not to those born to
people who are illegally in the country. This policy would match that of
nearly every Western nation.
* Repealing Federal Mandates. Governor Wilson has proposed
congressional action to remove the rewards for illegal immigration by
repealing federal mandates that make illegal immigrants eligible for
health care, education, and other benefits.
"Sanctuary Laws." Governor Wilson signed legislation prohibiting
"sanctuary laws," which forbid local law enforcement officials from
reporting to the Immigration and Naturalization Service illegal felons
who police believe are illegal aliens.
* Drivers Licenses. Governor Wilson signed legislation requiring
first-time applicants for a driver's license or personal ID card from the
Department of Motor Vehicles to produce evidence of citizenship or legal
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© California Voter Foundation 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 & 1998