MIAMI — An obscure ballot initiative in Florida intended to end a legacy of bias against Asian-Americans was defeated Tuesday, apparently because voters incorrectly assumed it would prevent illegal immigrants from owning property.
Had it passed, the initiative, known as Amendment No. 1, would have removed from the state’s Constitution language adopted in 1926 allowing the Legislature to prohibit foreigners who were barred from citizenship — Asian-Americans at the time — from owning land.
On the Web site of one group, Americans for Legal Immigration, a member wrote that it should be left standing because “ ‘illegal aliens’ should not have ‘rights’ like U.S. citizens have. The only right they should have is deportation!”
The group’s president, William Gheen, did not respond to e-mail messages seeking comment but Enos Schera, 81, who posted the message, said that he was “1,000 percent” satisfied that the law remained in place.
He is a founder of Citizens of Dade United, a Miami group opposing illegal immigration, and he said he knew the provision’s history but hoped that keeping it on the books would encourage lawmakers to prevent all illegal immigrants from owning property.
“They’re buying up the whole country,” he said. more