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Latino Political Participation 25 Years After the Passage of Proposition 187: Opportunities and Continuing Challenges

Marisa Abrajano, Lisa GarcĂ­a Bedolla

Vol. 53

April 2020

Page 1831

The campaign around Proposition 187 and its aftermath is one key reason why the state of California turned resoundingly from “Red” to “Blue.” Although a permanent injunction was placed on Proposition 187, and the proposition was never implemented because a federal judge found it to be unconstitutional, its long-term political ramifications were significant. Fundamentally, the mobilization around Proposition 187 activated a new generation of Latino leaders, many of whom were on college campuses when the proposition was on the ballot. They cut their political teeth organizing the marches, walkouts, and other opposition efforts. For many of them, that experience brought them into politics, sometimes for the first time. Two prominent Speakers of the California Assembly — Antonio Villaraigosa and Kevin de León — see their efforts to defeat Proposition 187 as the catalyst to their political careers. In addition to bringing new Latino activists into the political sphere, Proposition 187 also moved existing activists to change their approach to electoral politics. As State Senator and labor leader Maria Elena Durazo said, “Prop. 187 was a big factor in reminding us [political activists] that we had to do something on the electoral level that was different, and it helped to radicalize the immigrant community in a broad, broad way.”

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