Montana Proof of Citizenship Question, LR-121 (2012)

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Proof of Citizenship Question
Flag of Montana.png
Click here to read the latest news on ballot measures around the country
Quick stats
Type:State statute
State code:Title 1, chapter 1, part 4; MCA
Referred by:Montana State Legislature
Topic:Immigration
Status:Approveda
The Montana Proof of Citizenship Question was on the November 6, 2012 general election ballot in the state of Montana as a legislatively-referred state statute, where it was approved. The measure required proof of citizenship in order for a person to receive certain services provided by the state. The proposal also implemented procedures in order to determine the citizenship status of a specific individual. The formal title of the measure in 2011 state legislative session was House Bill 638.[1]

Aftermath

The measure was overturned by Judge Jeffrey Sherlock on June 23, 2014.[2] The judge said that most of the measure was unenforceable and pre-empted by federal law. He did let one part of the measure stand however. The statute still requires state authorities to notify the federal government when undocumented residents seek public services.[3]

Election results

See also: 2012 ballot measure election results

The following are unofficial election results:

Montana LR-121
OverturnedotOverturned Case:Montana Justice Immigrant Alliance et al. v. Bullock et al. BDV-2012-1042
ResultVotesPercentage
Yes 378,563 79.51%
No97,52820.49%

Results are certified and final.

Official results via Montana Secretary of State.

Text of measure

The ballot language that voters saw read:[4]

LEGISLATIVE REFERENDUM NO. 121

AN ACT REFERRED BY THE LEGISLATURE

AN ACT DENYING CERTAIN STATE-FUNDED SERVICES TO ILLEGAL ALIENS; ESTABLISHING PROCEDURES FOR DETERMINING A PERSON'S CITIZENSHIP STATUS; PROVIDING THAT THE PROPOSED ACT BE SUBMITTED TO THE QUALIFIED ELECTORS OF MONTANA; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE AND AN APPLICABILITY DATE.

LR-121 prohibits providing state services to people who are not U.S. citizens and who have unlawfully entered or unlawfully remained in the United States. Under LR-121, every individual seeking a state service, such as applying for any state licenses, state employment, unemployment or disability benefits, or aid for university students, must provide evidence of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status, and/or have their status verified through federal databases. State agencies must notify the U.S. Department of Homeland Security of noncitizens who have unlawfully entered or remained in the U.S. and who have applied for state services.

The costs associated with verifying U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status will vary by agency and cannot be precisely determined. However, on-going costs may include: hiring and training state personnel to use various federal databases; software, hardware and search charges; and information assessment and management costs.

[] FOR denying certain state services to illegal aliens.

[] AGAINST denying certain state services to illegal aliens.

Support

Supporters claimed that the measure was proactive and would help prevent future immigration problems.[5]

Supporters

Arguments

  • As primary author of the measure, Rep. Howard said, "If you’re an illegal person you can only live two ways: take a job from a Montanan or you have to live on the benefits that we provide. I wanted to create an easy, logical process where our state agencies would go through and be able to create a deterrent for illegal immigrants getting Montana and federal tax money."[5]
  • Rep. Milburn argued that even though the state may not have had an identifiable illegal immigrations problem, the measure was about the principle of the matter. In a discussion on Montana Public Radio he compared it to anti-immigration efforts in Georgia and Arizona, saying, "It’s kind of the theory that there’s strength with the more states that jump on board with something like this."[6]

Opposition

  • Opponents of the measure said that checking individuals against a federal database would be far from perfect. They said that such checks could result in citizens being denied services they are legally entitled to.[5]

Opponents

Arguments

  • The Montana Immigrant Justice Alliance argued that immigration law enforcement was a task for the federal government and that using state resources to enforce such laws would be costly due to the pay-per-use nature of the federal database used to determine citizenship status.[8]
  • Sen. Wanzenried and Rep. MacDonald argued that the measure ran contrary to the state's founding ideas of freedom and independence. The further compared the measure to the proposed national identification card that the state fought against.[7]
  • Opponents also argued that the measure was simply unnecessary in Montana because the state does not have a real illegal immigration problem. They said that supporters had not provided proof that illegal immigration was costing the state more than this measure's implementation would.[7]

Lawsuit

List of ballot measure lawsuits in 2012

Montana Immigrant Justice Alliance v. State of Montana

On December 7, 2012, the Montana Immigrant Justice Alliance filed a lawsuit against the measure saying that the law unconstitutionally targets immigrants, legal or otherwise. The case was heard by Judge Jeffrey M. Sherlock of the Montana 1st Judicial District Court.[9] The original complaint may be read here.

On May 23, 2013, Judge Sherlock heard a request filed by Montana Solicitor General Lawrence VanDyke that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the plaintiffs have no standing due to the fact that there were no known instances of the law being actually enforced since it took effect.[10]

Path to the ballot

Section 8 of Article XIV of the Montana Constitution says that an affirmative roll call vote of two-thirds of all members of the Montana Legislature is required to refer an amendment to the ballot.

See also

External links

Opposition

References