7 B.U. Pub. Int. L.J. 93 (1998)
Forbidding States from Providing Essential Social Services to Illegal Immigrants: The Constitutionality of Recent Federal Action

handle is hein.journals/bupi7 and id is 101 raw text is: FORBIDDING STATES FROM PROVIDING ESSENTIAL
SOCIAL SERVICES TO ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS: THE
CONSTITUTIONALITY OF RECENT FEDERAL ACTION*
I. INTRODUCTION
Welcome to the great national panic attack.' The debate over illegal immi-
grants2 has been raging on a national scale since the passage of the California
initiative entitled Proposition 187.3 Through the passage of this initiative Califor-
nia voters have changed the face of the nation's discussion about undocumented
aliens. Once a federal question, legislators now debate about illegal immigration
issues on a state level. Many residents question whether to discourage illegal im-
migrants by denying them access to essential social services.4
* This note is dedicated to my parents, Robert and Dorothy, to whom I owe more than
I could ever repay.
I See No Tired, No Poor, No Huddled Masses, No Wretched Refuese, No Homeless,
NEWSDAY, Sept. 29, 1996, at A35.
2 Throughout this Note the terms illegal immigrant, .... illegal alien and undocu-
mented immigrant are used interchangeably. Each refers to an individual who is neither
a United States citizen nor present in the country with permission from the Immigration
and Naturalization Service.
3 Proposition 187's initiatives are codified at CAL. EDuc. CODE § 48215(a) (West Supp.
1995); CAL HEAT & SAFETY CODE § 130(a) (West Supp. 1995); CAL. WELF. & INST.
CODE § 10001.5 (West Supp. 1995). The Proposition is premised on the belief that public
services and schools draw illegal immigrants to the United States. Many initiative backers
have acknowledged that what they want is a revolution in national immigration policy.
Proposition 187's best-known provisions would deny undocumented immigrants from
public schooling, foster care, non-emergency health care and other state-supported social
services. A federal court has enjoined many of Proposition 187's initiatives. See League
of United Latin American Citizens v. Wilson, 908 F. Supp. 755 (C.D. Cal. 1995). See,
e.g., Kevin R. Johnson, Public Benefits and Immigration: The Intersection of Immigra-
tion, Status, Ethnicity, Gender and Class, 42 UcLA L. REV. 1509 (1995); Jeffrey R. Mar-
golis, Closing the Doors to the Land of Opportunity: The Constitutional Controversy Sur-
rounding Proposition 187, 26 U. MIAMI INTER-AM. L. REV. 363 (1994-1995); Daniel W.
Sutherland, Immigration's [Hiard Problems and [Ejasy [A]nswers, WASH. TIMES, Jan. 12,
1995, at A17 (quoting Barbara Coe of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform,
[wie anticipated the passage of Proposition 187 would have a ripple effect across the
nation. Right now, we feel like we are in the midst of a tidal wave, for goodness sake);
Patrick J. McDonnell, Prop. 187 Turns Up Heat in U.S. Immigration Debate, L.A. TIMEs,
Aug. 10, 1994, at Al; Roger E. Hernandez, California Initiative 'Attacks Phantoms,'
PORTLAND OREGONAN, Sept. 12, 1994, at B6; Proposition 187: Snoop or Snitch, SACRA-
MENTO BEE, Sept. 12, 1994, at B14.
4 See, e.g., Patrick McDonnell, Anti-Illegal Immigration Proposition Fails to Qualify
for Arizona Ballot, L.A. TIMEs, July 15, 1996, at Al. The Arizona Save Our State ini-
tiative, named after California's Proposition 187, failed to make the November ballot. Id.
A similar initiative in Florida named Florida 187 also failed to make it on the ballot. See
93

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