LITTLE ROCK-Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has rejected a proposed ballot initiative that would require state agencies to verify that those seeking government programs are legal U.S. residents.
The proposal, sought by Secure Arkansas, would have required residents at least 13-years-old to sign an affidavit that they live in the United States legally. Those found to be lying could face perjury charges, under the proposal.
Exceptions to the law include emergency medical services, organ transplants, disaster relief, prenatal care and access to crisis counseling and short-term shelters.
McDaniel, a Democrat, said he rejected the proposal because of ambiguous language in the proposal. The group has the option of revising their proposal resubmitting draft language to the attorney general’s office.
Once approved, Secure Arkansas can begin gathering the required 61,974 signatures needed to place the initiative on the November ballot.
The group, which says it’s “committed to the rule of law and the fair treatment of both citizens and legal immigrants,” filed the measure March 27 with the attorney general’s office.
Among other things, McDaniel said the proposed ballot title, at 923 words, could face legal challenge for being too complex.
“The ballot title you have submitted is unnecessarily lengthy, in that it essentially simply repeats each provision of the proposed act and reflects no apparent effort to identify the most substantive and important provisions,” McDaniel wrote.
He said also that the proposed ballot language may be incorrect because “it fails to acknowledge that access to many public benefits by undocumented immigrants is currently restricted by federal law.”
The Arkansas Friendship Community, which opposed the measure, says the state’s immigrant population, both legal and undocumented, used $237 million in state services in 2004 but paid $257 million.