California spends $938 million annually to incarcerate prisoners who entered the country illegally, receiving less than $66 million in federal funds to offset the cost.
An “estimated 60% of gangs in Los Angeles County are illegal aliens.”
“Researchers report 420,000 illegal alien sexual predators with an average of four victims each.”
These are some of the statements that Ted Hilton and his campaign committee Taxpayer Revolution cite in justifying the need for the Protection from Transnational Gangs Act of 2012 initiative. The figures in the first statement were reported in a November 16, 2011, story by the Los Angeles Times. But when the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was asked about the second statement, a spokesman replied, “There is no logical way we would know that.” The third statement can be tracked to the website of Deborah Schurman-Kauflin. Her “independently published, non-peer-reviewed study,” says factcheck.org, “employs some highly creative math and interesting assumptions.… The ‘study’ is actually a pretty good case study in bad research.”
The Protection from Transnational Gangs initiative, which Hilton hopes to put before voters next November, would require state and local officers to act as federal officers on immigration matters, make it more difficult for persons without legal residency to obtain a driver’s license, and allow police to question the citizenship or immigration status of anyone at anytime.
Hilton has a long history in the field of immigration enforcement, which his website dates to 1991. In 2009, he proposed another measure, the Taxpayer Protection Act of 2010, that never made it to the ballot. Unlike the law enforcement focus of the 2012 initiative, the prior proposal sought to deny public benefits to those without legal status and to require a new type of birth certificate for children born to parents unable to verify their citizenship.
In an interview in late November, Hilton said that his 2012 initiative aims to override “sanctuary” laws passed by some localities.
“Here’s what’s happened in Los Angeles,” he said. “They’ve said that a police officer can actually recognize someone on the street who’s not doing anything — they can recognize him as a previously deported felon — and not be able to go up to that person because he hasn’t broken any law by standing there. But it’s his immigration status that’s in question.”
Section 4 of the Protection from Transnational Gangs Act reads, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no official or agency of this state or political subdivision herein may prohibit or in any way restrict any peace officer from inquiring into the citizenship or immigration status of a person and from verifying that status, or exchanging information with any law enforcement agency, or for any lawful purpose authorized by Sections 1373 and 1644 of Title 8 of the United States Code.”
Michael Chen of 10News said in a May 2010 interview with Hilton, “His law would take Arizona’s one step further,” in reference to that state’s controversial SB 1070, which allows police to stop and question people about their immigration status at any time.
Hilton doesn’t deny the similarities but points to Muehler v. Mena, a unanimous Supreme Court decision made in 2005 which found that, in the absence of a prolonged detention, officers do not need reasonable suspicion to question immigration status.
“You can say we’re copying 1070, but you’ve got to clarify that we’re copying the part that’s been upheld,” he said. “The judge in Arizona saw the language as a mandate, and that’s why she didn’t uphold it.” (Before the Arizona law could take effect, Judge Susan Bolton issued a preliminary injunction to block keys sections of it. The court of appeals upheld the injunction, and the case has made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear arguments on April 25 as to "whether the federal immigration laws preclude Arizona's efforts at cooperative law enforcement.")
Hilton says that his proposal is different than SB 1070 because questioning is at the officer’s discretion.
A lack of funding to pay signature gatherers may be the initiative’s downfall, as was the case with his initiative in 2010.
“We’re talking to the major donors now,” Hilton told Chen last May about fund-raising efforts that would help get the campaign off the ground.
“I would say we’re further along than we’ve ever been, but we still have to firm that up,” he said in November.
The secretary of state’s website shows that Taxpayer Revolution raised $102,028.54 in monetary contributions in 2011. The campaign made payments of $97,551.94, according to its campaign-disclosure statement. It paid $8700 to Ted Hilton, describing the expenditure as “agent bill payment”; $17,404.89 to the Monaco Group for campaign literature; and $10,865.43 for “credit card bill payment.” About half of the total payments, $53,720, were made to Hisako Yoshida for “professional services.”
“She prepares the mailings to raise the money,” Hilton said of Yoshida. “Mostly to individuals who have donated to other campaigns related to this issue.”
Yoshida is named on campaign-disclosure statements as the committee’s treasurer. County assessor records reveal that Ted Hilton and Hisako Yoshida-Hilton own a condo in the beach area.
Hilton said that “agent bill payment” means reimbursement for various office costs.
To put the measure on the November 6 ballot, the campaign needs 504,720 valid signatures. Hilton said he hopes to get at least 675,000 people to sign petitions — anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of signatures can turn out to be invalid. California allows only 150 days to collect the signatures, beginning last November 22. Petitions must be submitted by April 20.
In an interview last week, Hilton said that supporters of the bill began gathering signatures on February 1.
“The American Legion has distributed these to all of their commanders,” Hilton said, “and they should be going out to over 490 American Legion posts. NumbersUSA is sending it out — they have 108,000 on their email list. NumbersUSA is involved with population and immigration issues.”
In addition to volunteers in Orange County and San Bernardino, volunteers are gathering signatures locally, Hilton said, “mostly Tea Party or the immigration-control advocates who are doing that there at the swap meets.”