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We lost the battle: Prop 187 passed, though it was later deemed unconstitutional and was never implemented.
Like them, Trump is appealing to people with very real economic concerns by scapegoating an entire class of people who are not the cause of it.
Just as 187’s backers avoided the very real and very difficult challenges of adapting to a new kind of economy, Trump is evoking a past that never really existed as somehow “great again.” He is also ignoring data as he pursues demagoguery.
But at the march, they were fighting for their rights in front of television cameras.
As I’ve listened to Donald Trump’s rhetoric about immigrants in general and Latinos in particular, I hear what many California politicians were saying 23 years ago. Trump is appealing to people with very real economic concerns by scapegoating an entire class of people who are not the cause of it.
Many other Latino political pioneers—from the legislator Richard Polanco, to former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, to the late labor chief Miguel Contreras—came of age during the fight over 187.
And, more broadly, because of Republican Governor Pete Wilson’s high-profile support for 187, Latinos were cemented firmly to the Democratic Party during a time when the Latino vote was still up for grabs.For those too young to remember, Prop 187 would have barred all undocumented immigrants from using public health care facilities, public education, and many other publicly funded services.Yes, you read that right: It would have barred hospitals, schools, and other vital services from people who needed them.What surprised Pete Wilson and his Republican colleagues was that their plan to push people to the margins of society achieved the exact opposite.People were so outraged, so motivated, and so galvanized by this blatant attack on their American Dream that they moved out of the shadows and pledged to show the world that they were real people with real hopes and real aspirations. The first, on February 28, 1994 in Los Angeles, was 20,000 strong; many of the attendees were people who, just a few short months earlier, were nervous about attending parents’ night at their child’s school for fear of running into authorities who would deport them.Perhaps no issue exemplifies that sentiment better than immigration.The things Donald Trump is saying about immigrants sound very familiar to those of us Californians who have been involved with immigration issues for the better part of our adult lives.They took a few minutes to pick up the trash around them.Just as we were demanding not to be taken for granted, we were not taking our community and our country for granted.With the benefit of two decades of hindsight it’s obvious that Prop 187 planted the seed out of which Latino activism and political power began to grow.I was eventually elected to the Assembly and became the longest serving Speaker since Willie Brown.