- The Washington Times - Friday, August 26, 2005

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A group of Republican state lawmakers yesterday said they will introduce legislation giving Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger the power to make California the third state to declare an emergency along its border with Mexico.

The lawmakers cited growing threats to public safety posed by illegal immigration, as well as the added costs of incarceration, education and providing health care, as the reasons for their action.

The four Southern California legislators were Assemblymen Mark Wyland and Ray Haynes, and Sens. Bill Morrow and Dennis Hollingsworth.

State law currently allows the governor to declare a state of emergency for events such as war, epidemics, natural disasters and “local emergencies,” a category that is defined broadly.

Mr. Schwarzenegger has praised Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, both Democrats, for issuing emergency declarations in their states, which unlocked $3 million to fight illegal border crossings.

But at an event in San Jose yesterday, the Republican governor reiterated his belief that the problem had not reached a comparable level of threat in California.

“New Mexico and Arizona have additional problems that California does not have, which is the killing of livestock and killing on the border, drug smuggling, human trafficking,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said.

He did not mention the four lawmakers’ proposal specifically but said he would support an effort to broaden his authority to declare emergencies.

The emergency proposal came as Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, a Democrat, traveled to meet with Mexican President Vicente Fox to discuss immigration and other border issues.

Speaking in Mexico City, Mr. Nunez said that while he had not yet read the proposed legislation, he cautioned against embracing any effort that he said would stigmatize illegal aliens or inflame racial tension.

“I want to make sure that race doesn’t get in the middle of it,” Mr. Nunez said. “We cannot approach this from a standpoint of allowing hatred and racial divisiveness to harm relations with our number one trading partner.”

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