Title

Proposition 187: California's Fear of Immigration

Date

6-1-2017 8:45 AM

End Time

1-6-2017 9:00 AM

Location

WUC Columbia Room

Department

History

Session Chair

Elizabeth M. Swedo

Session Title

History Senior Thesis presentations

Faculty Sponsor(s)

John Rector

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

In 1994 California’s legislature introduced Proposition 187 and called it the “Save Our State” initiative to prohibit undocumented immigrants from using health care services, public education, and other social services through citizenship screening. Though the law was only in effect for three days and was never enforced, it demonstrates an entire state’s willingness to target a subset of the population that is purpose was to separate Hispanics socially, economically, and physically from the white population. Scholars recognize two theories on the popularity of the law: either people voted in favor of it because they were, at least to a degree, racist; or that people voted for it because of nativism and racist fears of criminals. The purpose in this paper is to identify other factors that contributed to the initiative’s popularity to broaden future discussions. A television reelection ad in ‘94 by then-governor Pete Wilson demonstrates that the motivations to approve this law did indeed have a racist element; however racism was only one irrational fear among other more important factors itself such as nativism, economic difficulties, and political aspirations.

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Jun 1st, 8:45 AM Jun 1st, 9:00 AM

Proposition 187: California's Fear of Immigration

WUC Columbia Room

In 1994 California’s legislature introduced Proposition 187 and called it the “Save Our State” initiative to prohibit undocumented immigrants from using health care services, public education, and other social services through citizenship screening. Though the law was only in effect for three days and was never enforced, it demonstrates an entire state’s willingness to target a subset of the population that is purpose was to separate Hispanics socially, economically, and physically from the white population. Scholars recognize two theories on the popularity of the law: either people voted in favor of it because they were, at least to a degree, racist; or that people voted for it because of nativism and racist fears of criminals. The purpose in this paper is to identify other factors that contributed to the initiative’s popularity to broaden future discussions. A television reelection ad in ‘94 by then-governor Pete Wilson demonstrates that the motivations to approve this law did indeed have a racist element; however racism was only one irrational fear among other more important factors itself such as nativism, economic difficulties, and political aspirations.