IN Florida, California, Texas, and a handful of other states, as well as in Washington, D.C., illegal immigrants are frequent targets in the debate over health care, welfare reform, prison costs, and education spending.
The debate was perhaps inevitable, given state and federal budget constraints, and the skyrocketing cost of aid to illegal immigrants. ``Because of these costs, we are unable to provide some of these same needed services to our legal residents,'' complains California Gov. Pete Wilson (R).
These points have been argued quietly for years, but state officials like Mr. Wilson and Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles (D) have been increasingly vocal about their opinions.
Mr. Chiles recently announced a lawsuit against President Clinton and the federal government. By not policing the borders and by forcing states to foot the bills, Chiles says, ``federal immigration policy has made a nightmare.''
In California, Wilson makes the same case. He says it costs his state $3 billion a year to pay for health care, education, criminal justice, and other costs associated with illegal immigration - ``and the borders are, plain and simply, the federal government's domain.''
Mr. Clinton has taken modest steps to answer complaints from the border states. He offered $172 million in increased spending for more Border Patrol agents and equipment to police the border.
Clinton also has proposed denying illegal immigrants coverage under any national health-care-reform measure, and is considering cuts in the welfare benefits to illegal immigrants. Driving by satellite
THERE might finally be a way to get a man to ask for directions. New technology makes it as simple - and anonymous - as pressing a button. Through satellites and computers, specially designed car phones can now hook up lost drivers with operators who know exactly where they are.
The new system, called Project Northstar, was designed by NYNEX, the regional telephone company, and will be tested throughout the metropolitan New York area, starting this week, in conjunction with Avis, the car-rental company.
The car phone sits opposite the radio with a microphone just above the rearview mirror, so you can talk with both hands on the steering wheel. A small antenna tucked in the rear window picks up signals from a navigational satellite and sends them to the Northstar computers.
Hit a few buttons, and a friendly voice asks what you need. One driver wandering the bucolic backroads of Westchester County on a recent day asked how to get back to midtown Manhattan. At NYNEX's computer center in Elmsford, the car popped up on a screen as a circular blip on a map. The operator enlarged the map and described a route into the city.
A decision will be made after the test period ends in June about whether to place Project Northstar in the general market. Another Republican tests the waters
FORMER Secretary of State James Baker III is not ruling out a run for the White House. ``While I haven't decided I'm going to run, I haven't decided I'm not going to run,'' Mr. Baker told the Houston Post for a story published Sunday. ``I have to decide if that's what I want to do with a good portion of the rest of my life.''
Baker held top jobs in three Republican administrations, and was White House chief of staff for Presidents Reagan and Bush.
``I know better than most what's involved,'' he said.
He said he spent a year ``laying low'' after moving back to Houston from Washington, D.C. Recently, he's criticized President Clinton on foreign policy, crime, health care, and the economy. He also has started making rounds of the country, helping Republicans raise money and possibly amassing some political chits of his own.
Unlike other possible challengers to Mr. Clinton, such as Sen. Robert Dole of Kansas, Baker has no national political organization or campaign funds ready. His only run for public office was an unsuccessful bid for Texas attorney general in 1978.