In Race for California Governor, Who Will Alienate Immigrants The Most?

By Julianne Hing Mar 23, 2010

Steve Poizner’s ad is set to air in California starting Tuesday. It’s an inflammatory ad, and one that’s presumably meant to put the no-name candidate on the map against his better-known opponents like Meg Whitman. The competition now among GOP candidates in California seems to be about who can be the most racist and offensive to the immigrant community. To which I say: Why you gotta use such nasty language, Steve? Even your Republican colleague and current California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has explicitly said that undocumented immigrants don’t deserve the blame for California’s deep budget woes. But last weekend, Poizner and Meg Whitman, the top GOP contender for the governor’s seat, made appearances at the conservative California Republican Assembly, sparring over their support of Prop 187. Poizner’s in favor of it, Whitman’s not. Never mind the fact that Prop 187 was just like this ad: a scare tactic full of baseless accusations meant to incite anger and instill fear. The contentious ballot measure, which was passed in 1994, would have denied people who are undocumented access to all public services, including health care and primary education. It was a showboat piece of legislation that anti-immigrant activists knew would never be instituted; the bulk of it was later and unsurprisingly ruled unconstitutional. But the dirty campaign waged in the months leading up to the election left real scars in the state. Since then though, several states including Oklahoma, Colorado, Virginia, Arizona and Georgia have instituted bans on undocumented immigrants’ access to medical care, homeless shelters and housing loans, and other public benefits. But hey, if you had any qualms about Whitman’s stance on immigration, she spells it out quite plainly on her website. Whitman’s "100% opposed to any form of amnesty." Whitman also wants to eliminate sanctuary cities, conduct raids and inspections at work sites, deploy the California National Guard to patrol the border, and most appallingly, ban the admission of undocumented students to any public institution of higher education. Prop 187 or no, it becomes hard to figure out who’s more anti-immigrant. And if that means that at the end of the day, the most progressive candidate Californians have is Jerry Brown, we’re in for some trouble.