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California Immigration Policy

             Although immigration issues were platforms for political campaigns in the past, most notable the reelection campaign of Pete Wilson, subsequent campaigns have failed when focusing on this issue. That changed however in the election campaign for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Since 9/11 our fears of terrorism have moved to the top of the list of concerns. Is it any wonder then that Schwarzenegger used issues dealing with illegal immigration as a foundation to his "Total Recall" campaign of 2003? One of the first pieces of information to come out of the Schwarzenegger camp was that he had voted yes on proposition 187. Many Democrats figured this would be something that would hurt Schwarzenegger, when in fact it did just the opposite. What the voters were able to see was that Gov. Schwarzenegger, as an immigrant himself, is able to see the difference between legal immigration and illegal entry, a very important distinction.
             We are all familiar with the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free". Could it be that these are exactly the ones that we are trying to keep out? Foreigners are less welcome precisely because they are perceived as tired and poor and huddled when the public identifies poverty with laziness and sees the barrio as the cause of many problems. A recent cover story for Time, entitled ``Down on the Downtrodden,'' quotes an influential member of the new Congress as saying: ``The inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty was written before welfare . . . . People [back then] came to this country to work.''(Buchanan). This statement may be telling us that either people are misunderstanding who is welcome or we are becoming less tolerant of who comes in. I think this statement tells the truth, however. It is obvious that the system is being taking advantage of. Or maybe it's just the sunshine and the beach that draws the immigration "crowds" to California.

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