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Sign To Call Calif. Anti-Immigrant

May 1, 1998

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Activists plan to put up a billboard next week that calls California the ``illegal immigration state″ and urges drivers to join an anti-immigrant movement.

The billboard at the California-Arizona state line on Interstate 10 will look like an official highway sign, with green background and white lettering: ``Welcome To California. The Illegal Immigrant State. Don’t Let This Happen To Your State. Call Toll Free (877) NO ILLEGALS.″

The 10-by-30 foot sign will be near a major immigration checkpoint.

It is sponsored by the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, headed by Barbara Coe, one of the authors of Proposition 187, the 1994 initiative designed to bar illegal immigrants from receiving social services.

``We hope that it’s quite controversial,″ said Leslie Blenkhorn, a spokesman for the Huntington Beach-based group. ``We hope that even Sacramento will call and take exception to it. Because we take exception to what’s being done in California as far as controlling illegal immigration.″

The coalition is demanding an end to illegal immigration and curbs on legal immigration because immigrants are taking jobs from Americans and draining the nation’s resources, Blenkhorn said.

Those who call the toll-free number will hear a one-minute recorded message explaining the group’s purpose. They will have the option of leaving a name and number if they are interested in helping stop the ``immigration invasion,″ Coe said.

``It’s outrageous to think that any group would want to put up a billboard like that anywhere in California,″ said Sylvia Argueta, a lawyer for the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

``All it’s going to do is create more divisiveness in our state. We’re still trying to heal from Proposition 187 and to learn to have tolerance for each other.

Federal courts have declared all parts of Proposition 187 unconstitutional.

The measure, passed by 59 percent of California’s voters but never implemented because of all the court challenges, would have denied education, welfare and non-emergency medical care to undocumented immigrants.

The sign is scheduled to go up Tuesday.

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