The Battle Of 187
October 30, 2019 / Latino USA
In the series, we revisit the fight over Prop 187 and look at how it continues to reverberate in our politics and culture today.
Host Gustavo Arellano learns how Prop 187 was born 25 years ago and talks to the pair of Orange County political consultants who helped write it. We learn what California looked like in 1993 and how the then-governor of California, Pete Wilson, attached himself to Prop 187. Issues around immigration are beginning to set the tone for a huge political debate.
In June 1994, 187 gets enough signatures to qualify for the California ballot. Proponents get support for the ballot measure through a new tagline: Save Our State. Latinos see 187 as an existential threat, so they organize school walk-outs and a march in downtown Los Angeles. But undecided voters see the Mexican flags waved at the march as an invasion come to life. In November 1994, 187 passes and Governor Pete Wilson is re-elected.
Just one day after the 1994 election, federal and state lawsuits are filed, claiming 187 is unconstitutional. And though 187 finally dies for good in 1999, Latinos in California never forget it. Prop 187 inspired more Latinos than ever before to register to vote and to run for office in California. Host Gustavo Arellano ends with one question: given President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, are we poised to experience another 187 at a national scale?
For more stories and photos related to Prop 187, check out the coverage from the Los Angeles Times here.