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Riverside County Assembly race sparks debate on immigration laws

October 26, 2012 |  9:11 am

The 67th Assembly District in Riverside County is a long way geographically and ideologically from the Democrat-controlled Capitol in Sacramento. That has been clear from the campaigns of the two candidates there.

Although the state Legislature has extended college scholarships and driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, the two Republicans battling it out in the 67th  have been competing over which one is tougher on enforcement of immigration laws.

The race features Melissa Melendez, a Lake Elsinore city councilwoman, vying against Phil Paule, a director with the Eastern Municipal Water District. He lives in French Valley and is district director for Rep. Darrell Issa (R- Vista). She is a businesswoman who served as a Russian translator in the U.S. Navy.

Paule has sent out mailers questioning whether Melendez is tough enough on illegal immigration.  "I'm against the Dream Act,'' he said in an interview regarding the California scholarship law. "I don't think we should be subsidizing the scholarships of people who are here illegally.''

Melendez also opposed the Dream Act and said that, as mayor, she passed a requirement that the city’s businesses use the federal E-Verify system to make sure job applicants are legal residents, although the governor later signed a law barring that requirement. She also pushed through a council resolution supporting Arizona’s tough immigration law.

The two have also fought over who has a better record on fiscal issues. Paule said he was part of water board actions to expand the use of recycling water and adopt a rate structure that charges less to those who use water responsibly. Said Melendez: "I’ve done pension reform. I've balanced the budget. I've done it on time. I've cut taxes for the businesses."


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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento