AP

Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson wants to revamp the nation's immigration system by cutting off “goodies” for undocumented immigrants.

"We have to turn off the spigot that pours out all the goodies," Carson said at Wednesday's second GOP debate.

Carson, who this week rose in the polls and now narrowly trails frontrunner Donald Trump, didn’t clarify what he meant by “goodies,” and the section on his website devoted to immigration makes no mention of his proposal. But fishing for votes by painting images of undocumented immigrants benefiting from taxpayer “goodies” is nothing new.

Carson’s pledge sounds eerily familiar to a 1994 California ballot measure known as Proposition 187. Then-governor Pete Wilson was running for re-election and championing a ballot measure that promised to take away all public services from undocumented immigrants—all services, public schools, libraries, hospitals. Everything.

Perhaps the most controversial section of Prop. 187 was a provision that required public educational institutions to verify the legal status of students and their parents.

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Almost 59 percent of California voters supported Prop. 187.

Prop. 187 was also supposed to ban undocumented immigrants from accessing health care services and other public assistance programs. Days after voters approved the initiative, Gov. Wilson issued an executive order ordering public institutions to cease prenatal care to undocumented women.

Most sections of Prop. 187 have since been dismantled by the courts, but the initiative and its proposals have been seared on the history of the nation.

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Researchers and historians have now proved the number of California’s Latino voters who voted for Democrats grew quickly in response to perceived attacks on the Latino community.

Demonstrators hold up signs to protest Proposition 187, outside the Huntington Park, Calif. City Hall where Gov. Pete Wilson was speaking. Archive photo from Jan. 16, 1996.
AP

“In comparison to other states that did not experience the same anti-immigrant environment such as Texas or New York, the research clearly demonstrates that Latino voter registration in California increased much faster than anticipated by population growth alone,” according to a study by Latino Decisions, a political opinion research group that focuses on Latino voters.

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Listening to Carson’s proposals tonight, it seems like the GOP has learned little from the legacy of Prop. 187.