Kerry Avoids Fight to Give Services to Arizona Illegals; Initially Opposed Plan to Impose Curbs

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 10, 2004 | Go to article overview

Kerry Avoids Fight to Give Services to Arizona Illegals; Initially Opposed Plan to Impose Curbs


Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry said over the weekend he won't get involved in the fight on the Protect Arizona Now initiative to deny illegal aliens some social services in this state, although last year he called it "both heartless and divisive."

Speaking to reporters from Arizona newspapers on his campaign train Sunday night, Mr. Kerry said states should be allowed to make such decisions.

"It's up to states to decide what the states want to do with respect to their own expenditures," Mr. Kerry said, according to the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff.

Polls show the initiative, which would deny state and local social services to illegal immigrants and require proof of U.S. citizenship before voting, has the support of nearly three-fourths of Arizona voters.

But Mr. Kerry has argued against the initiative.

Last August, he wrote a letter to the Tucson Citizen, signed as a U.S. senator and candidate for president, blasting the initiative. He said it resembled California's Proposition 187, which also sought to deny benefits to illegal immigrants, and which Mr. Kerry said was pushed by "forces of hate and discrimination."

Kerry campaign spokesman David Wade denied the two positions are inconsistent. He said Mr. Kerry opposes the initiative, but doesn't think the president should interfere with states' rights on the matter.

Mr. Kerry is on the 11th day of his post-convention cross-country journey, and yesterday he took a helicopter tour near the Grand Canyon, where he pledged to spend $600 million to reverse Bush administration cuts to national parks' budgets.

He also defended his decision to vote for the president to use force in Iraq even knowing what he knows now.

"I would have voted for the authority, I believe it's the right authority for a president to have, but I would have used that authority, as I have said throughout this campaign, effectively," Mr. Kerry told reporters traveling with him. …

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