November 19, 2004
A key supporter of Proposition 200 filed suit Thursday to overturn the opinion of Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard that the initiative targeting illegal immigrants applies to only a handful of welfare programs.
Randy Pullen said Goddard’s 14-page opinion issued last week is too narrow in its scope of what services are covered by the initiative’s requirement that applicants for "public benefits’’ prove they are in this country legally. His suit says it is far broader, including everything from home care for the elderly and temporary assistance to needy families to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s health insurance program for the poor.
Goddard said Proposition 200 covers only programs established by Title 46, the state’s welfare code — and only those not funded in whole
or part with federal tax dollars. That, he said, left only a handful of programs like rental and housing assistance.
Pullen, chairman of the Yes on 200 Committee, said at that time he would not sue but instead ask the Legislature to extend the requirement to various other public services.
"It wasn’t going to be settled anyway,’’ Pullen said, noting that the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund is preparing its own lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the initiative. Pullen said since the scope and validity of Proposition 200 is going to be decided in court he might as well have his own position heard.
Attorney David Abney said he filed suit now — before the measure is declared law later this month — because Goddard’s opinion creates a situation that has to be remedied immediately.
"When the attorney general talks, agencies and governments across the state will say, ‘OK, that’s what we’re going to do,’ " he said.
Andrea Esquer, Goddard’s press aide, said Goddard had not yet seen the lawsuit and would not comment.