LOS ANGELES - Bob Dole yesterday backed a House proposal to allow states to deny public education to illegal immigrants as he sought to turn intense concern over illegal immigration here against President Clinton.
"On this issue, California and every other state should have the right to decide for themselves," Mr. Dole told about 200 employees of El Camino Resources International, a financing company that provides computers to schools. "Those who come here illegally should not have a claim on taxpayer dollars."
Mr. Dole's remarks put him squarely in the middle of a fight on Capitol Hill over whether to include the education provision in a bill to intensify federal efforts to reduce illegal immigration.
The provision, sponsored by Rep. Elton Gallegly, California Republican, would give each state the option of denying public education to children of illegal immigrants.
In the 1982 case Plyler vs. Doe, the Supreme Court overturned, on a 5-4 vote, a Texas law excluding children of illegal aliens from public schools. The court said the law violated the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law.
The Gallegly provision is meant to allow California to carry out the court-blocked provisions of Proposition 187.
Californians approved that initiative in 1994, 59 percent to 41 percent. The referendum sought to block access to public education and most other public services to illegal immigrants and their children, though …