Arnold Schwarzenegger: Proposition 187 is Dead

When Arnold Schwarzenegger announced he was running for governor in California’s special October 7 recall election, his campaign co-chairman, former California GOP Gov. Pete Wilson, let it be known that Schwarzenegger had voted for Proposition 187, the 1994 ballot initiative that would have stopped illegal aliens from attending California public schools or receiving state-funded social services or non-emergency health care.

Shortly after it was passed, Federal District Judge Mariana Pfaelzer, a Jimmy Carter nominee and self-professed “liberal,” issued an injunction against Prop 187, and then ruled it unconstitutional. In 1999, Democratic California Gov. Gray Davis suspended the state’s effort to appeal Pfaelzer’s decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. As a consequence, the U.S. Supreme Court has never been asked to rule on the legality of a proposition that has never been enforced even though it was approved by 59% of California voters.

Schwarzenegger’s vote for Prop 187 raised hopes among conservatives that as governor he might be prepared to enforce Prop 187, or to at least resume that state’s appeal of Judge Pfaelzer’s ruling in the federal courts.

Now that hope has been dashed by a set of questions and answers Schwarzenegger has posted on his campaign website (

Here is the relevant question and answer:

What is your position on undocumented immigrants?

“I came to California 35 years ago because I saw this state as the best place on earth to fulfill my dreams. Immigrants contribute to the richness of life in California, and I embrace them.

“Border enforcement is a federal responsibility. However, state taxpayers currently bear the costs of providing public services to undocumented immigrants, such as incarcerating undocumented immigrants in the state prison system. I will work with other border states, the President, and the U.S. Congress to increase federal reimbursements for these costs.

“Proposition 187 has been resolved by the courts. It is time to move on. More than 2.3 million undocumented immigrants currently live in California. They cannot continue to live underground. I will work with federal officials to address this problem.”

Schwarzenegger does not say how he would recover the cost of “undocumented immigrants” in the state school and health systems as opposed to its “prison system.” Nor does he say what legal status the “undocumented immigrants” should assume if they “cannot continue to live underground.” Is he speaking of an amnesty?


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