In the November 2nd elections, one of the measures on the Arizona ballot was Proposition 200, to the effect that illegal immigrants should be denied "public benefits". Prop 200 passed with 56% of the vote.
Local attorney Frank Conti, Jr. had an op-ed piece in THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC in which he said:
So Proposition 200 has passed in Arizona, by a wide majority, and the sky has not yet fallen.
. . .
The truth is, no reasonable person employing a modicum of common sense could possibly equate a public service - libraries, police and fire protection, garbage removal - with a public benefit like welfare, which entails the direct handing over of money from the government to the individual. Now this distinction, clear as it is, might be too fine for an undocumented immigrant who speaks no English.
I was at my local library about a week ago. As I walked towards the entrance, I noticed two men: One was another man, very tall, also walking towards the entrance. The second was average height, slightly paunchy, mustached, standing near the doors to the library; the second man had a camera in his hands.
As the tall man approached the entrance, the man with the camera spoke: "Are you an Arizona citizen?" he asked.
The tall man hesitated for a second, then answered "Yes." He sounded puzzled at being asked.
"Okay," Camera Man said. He turned his gaze away from the tall man. The tall man went ahead into the library.
I was now approaching the library entrance. Camera Man glanced at me... and then away, as if not interested. He said nothing as I entered the library.
The incident had been very strange. After entering the library, I saw the tall man and went to get a closer look at him.
Besides being tall, he had the hawk-nosed features frequently seen in Meditteranean people. Or, perhaps, Arabic. He was not dark-skinned, but he was a shade or two deeper in color than my own tan; he could probably have been described as "swarthy".
I thought about this while finishing my errand at the library. A man of "ethnic" appearance had been questioned about his citizenship, while I -- indisputably Caucasian -- had been unquestioned. Did this have something to do with the rcent passage of Prop 200? If the tall man had answered "No", would he have been harangued about having no right to use the library? Would he have had his picture taken?
I decided to ask Camera Man what he was doing. But when I left the library after about ten minutes inside, he had gone.
Conti may have been correct about "no reasonable person" could interpret Prop 200 as forbidding libraries and other benign public services to residents of Arizona. But I think Prop 200 was not written by "reasonable persons", and I think the harassment and intimidation has already started.