| A bill like Arizona's odious, anti-immigrant SB 1070 could never make it out of committee in the California Legislature, and would never be signed by Governor Jerry Brown (or Arnold Schwarzenegger for that matter) even if it did.
That leaves the ballot, and that's what one right-winger plans to do:
A Republican activist from Belmont is raising signatures to place an Arizona-style immigration law on the California ballot in 2012.
The proposition would require all state and local police officers to investigate the immigration status of people they stop if they have reasonable suspicion the person is in the country illegally. It would make it a state crime for illegal immigrants to seek work while concealing their immigration status. And it would make it a state crime for an employer to hire an undocumented immigrant, whether the hiring happens intentionally or negligently.
Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced Tuesday that the proponent, Michael Erickson, could begin collecting signatures. He must collect the signatures of 433,971 voters by April 21 in order for the initiative to qualify for the 2012 ballot....
Erickson said he took the text of Arizona's law, SB 1070, and applied it to California's penal code, and also strengthened the language to overcome likely constitutional challenges.
Here we go again. As we learned in 1994 with Prop 187, 1996 with Prop 209, and in 2008 with Prop 8, the ballot box is not the best place to protect rights. Prop 187 passed by a 2-1 margin in '94. I worry about what would happen if this got on a CA ballot.
Especially if that ballot were the February 2012 presidential primary ballot. My understanding is that if this initiative qualifies by April 21, 2011, it would indeed be on that ballot.
That's a big problem. The February 2012 primary will have a massively Republican electorate - President Obama is likely to not face serious opposition for renomination, whereas the right will be having quite a spirited contest to determine who in their rogue's gallery will get sent against Obama in the fall. Of all the ballots that I would NOT want to see this initiative on, it would be that ballot. I might support a serious primary challenger to Obama only for the sake of driving Democrats to the polls to try and stop this initiative should it qualify.
So far there's no indication that any money is behind this initiative, but that could change at any moment. As I explained yesterday, the base of the California Republican Party hates Latinos and desperately wants to strike out at them using this sort of neo-Jim Crow tool. All it would take is a little money to get the teabaggers fired up and gather the signatures, and this could go from a concern to a very serious and immediate threat.
We're going to watch this one very, very, very closely.