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Grip of Courts Fails to Stifle Prop. 187 : Pioneers: The four Orange County residents who brought the initiative about are deeply involved in similar efforts underway in other states.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An accountant. A crime analyst. A city councilwoman and her husband, a political consultant. Orange County residents all, they met for the first time two years ago, drawn together by a common contempt for the impact they believed illegal immigrants were having here.

Their union would eventually create Proposition 187 and alter California’s political landscape. One year after the passage of the unprecedented measure, the four founding members of the “save our state” campaign are continuing their battle for an end by government to public services for illegal immigrants.

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RONALD STEPHEN PRINCE, 47, of Tustin.

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Two years ago, Prince was an obscure, angry accountant who stood in front of a supermarket with a clipboard and pen in hand, lashing out at illegal immigrants who he said were draining the state’s resources. Today, Prince’s name is well known to groups across the country that want to mimic his efforts and place initiatives similar to Proposition 187 on their state ballots.

Since the passage of Proposition 187 last year, Prince has helped create Save Our State II--an advisory measure aimed at amending the U.S. Constitution to end automatic citizenship for the offspring of illegal immigrants born on U.S. soil.

Prince has been pounding the street to secure the signatures needed to place the measure on the California ballot next November. He has also been burning the phone lines, appearing on radio talk shows and speaking at engagements nationwide to extol Proposition 187 and promote SOS II.

“It is critically important, not only to the future of California but the future of the entire country, to get the federal government to understand that illegal immigration is a major problem and the problem needs to be addressed now,” Prince said Tuesday.

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Prince noted what he called “the lost meaning of the Statue of Liberty.” The statue served as a backdrop for the kickoff of Gov. Pete Wilson’s failed presidential campaign.

“The original idea was that what we created here is a way of enlightening the world,” he said. “It wasn’t a porch light that says, ‘Here’s the door, come in.’ ”

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BARBARA A. COE, Huntington Beach

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When SOS was first formed, it relied on the extensive contacts of Coe, who presides over an active political network called Citizens for Action Now. She and Prince eventually formed the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, which works with similar groups in 29 different states.

Last December, Coe was forced to retire from the Anaheim Police Department, where she worked as a crime analyst. Coe declined to comment on her forced retirement Tuesday, other than to say it related to “my immigration work.” Gina Beitler, a representative of the Anaheim Municipal Employees Assn., said Coe came under fire within the department after she used a city Polaroid camera to snap a picture of striking drywall installers who were picketing police headquarters.

A Police Department spokesman said he was unable to comment on the situation Tuesday.

Nowadays, Coe hits “the deck running at 6 a.m. every day,” she said, constantly pursuing issues having to do with illegal immigration at all levels. She recently traveled to Washington and Dallas to give speeches, “sharing with people the magnitude of the problem.”

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At the end of this month, Coe will go to Birmingham, Ala., where she will speak to the Council of Conservative Citizens.

“I work with immigration issues from early morning until late at night. This is my life,” Coe said. “It is my position that we are on the verge of losing the sovereignty of our nation, and we need to fight that.”

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BARBARA KILEY, 48, Yorba Linda

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Coming off the victory of Proposition 187, Kiley, a City Council member since 1992, ran in September for a vacant seat in the Legislature’s 72nd Assembly District and lost. She is up for reelection to the council next year and said she will run.

“I couldn’t beat the Orange County” establishment, which backed her victorious opponent, Richard Ackerman, Kiley said Tuesday. “Just couldn’t beat them.”

The campaign kept her busy for most of this year, but since her defeat, Kiley, who is a partner with her husband in a political consulting firm in Yorba Linda, has thrown herself back into the effort to promote Proposition 187 elsewhere.

Like Prince and other SOS founders, Kiley she has been giving speeches and interviews on radio shows.

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“This is something that we’ll be involved in all of our lives now,” Kiley said. “It’s a movement that will only grow and take the people involved with it.”

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ROBERT KILEY, 47, Yorba Linda

Kiley has formed a new consulting agency specifically to handle what he calls the “national version of Proposition 187.” Called Electus, the firm has advised grass-roots organizations in Arizona and Florida, two of nearly a dozen states where activists are interested in creating their own versions of the California measure.

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“All these people are expressing an interest because they feel the same pinch that we do . . . with what’s going on with illegal immigration and why we’re funding these people to the tune of millions of dollars,” Kiley said.

His job, Kiley said, is to help people start organizations similar to SOS. He has helped circulate petitions in other states. He has met with volunteers, flying to Arizona and Florida at least once a month.

“I tell the people, ‘It’s simple,’ ” he said. “ ‘You just have to get to the people. You just have to get volunteers to get other volunteers.’ I offer the fact that SOS is now the battle cry.”


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