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    Secure Arkansas gathers signatures for ballot initiative

    5:59 PM, Jun 23, 2010   |    comments
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    Secure Arkansas has less than two weeks to gather enough signatures to get its proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

    The group wants to prevent illegal aliens from receiving public assistance like Medicaid and Medicare.

    It was a day of celebration at the Mexican Consulate to announce a partnership between UAMS and the Mexican government. They're helping immigrants with health questions, regardless of their legal status.

    "If they have a problem, they can knock on the door, go inside the consulate, and ask for help," says Mexican Consul Adres Chao.

    They'll have better access to health screenings and will be pointed in the right direction for medical treatment. Yet, at the same time, the group Secure Arkansas is advocating for no federal assistance for illegal immigrants.

    Chairwoman Jeannie Burlsworth says a list of federal programs include "housing benefits, WIC, medical care, medicare, Medicaid, Social Security-all the benefits and all the package they would get when they come into this country. If they are here illegally, they are not citizens, and they would not be eligible."

    The group needs 77,000 signatures to get their amendment on the November ballot.

    There is already a federal law that does not allow illegal aliens to receive public assistance like Welfare. Burlsworth hopes this would just reinforce that.

    "Currently, our state agencies are not tracking the dollar amount that is paid out to people here illegally," says Burlsworth.

    Pediatrician Dr. Eddie Ochoa says those here illegally are not receiving payouts.

    "So, it's a matter that's been settled federally, and to burden the state on issues such as that is a waste of time," says Ochoa.

    Since, the new health window is at the Mexican Consulate, on Mexican soil and supported by private dollars and the Mexican government, they're not breaking any U.S. laws.

    Burlsworth estimates she has 60,000 signatures so far.

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