Very few know who they are that drove Latinos out on the streets to protest even against the opposition of other leaders

Very few know that Fabián Núñez, Kevin De León, Gil Cedillo and Juan José Gutiérrez were the leaders behind the mega-march against Proposition 187 in 1994. Their participation against the initiative that sought to deny social services and education to the undocumented, marked their lives Forever and thousands of Latinos in California.

That fight led Fabian Nunez to be Los Angeles assemblyman and leader of the State Assembly.

“For me it was the most important year of my political formation. He was already a community organizer. I had never settled for the reality and interests of the power behind the political institutions. But when we started popular mobilization and activism, we never had in mind to influence the electoral process. Proposition 187 changed everything by knowing that it would worsen the living conditions of the undocumented people dramatically. 187 intended for teachers and medical service providers to become agents of the Migration Service (INS). It was a proposal that wanted to create a kind of human being that was not a human being. At that time, not all politicians, even being Democrats, supported immigrants, ’Fabián says.

“They rejected us. They wanted nothing to do with it. Councilman Richard Alatorre was the only one who supported us. Party people like Dianne Feinstein was not with us initially. We begin to look for allies with power like unions. There we found the support of Gil Cedillo, María Elena Durazo and Mike García, ”he says.

He recalls that they carried out the first mobilization against 187, on May 28, 1994.

"For the great march of October 16, 1994, more than 100,000 people were mobilized," he said.

Among those who opposed the march were Gloria Molina, who considered, says Fabian, that it was better to hide Latinos, and better sow fear among Anglo-Saxons in relation to the fact that if they were not given medical attention to the undocumented, they were going to spread diseases.

“Many like her did not want immigrants to face. We insist that they had to be mobilized. They were contributors to the economy, they didn't come to steal, or take advantage of public services. ”

At that stage of his life, Fabian doesn't He had no political desire to be elected to a position.

However, the fight against 187 made him pay more attention to the electoral process.

“I joined the electricians union. From there I went to the county as political director of the Federation of Trade Unions. It was where I began to lead election campaign. So definitely 187 was my political school and impelled me to eventually jump for a job. Although we had Latino politicians in local and state-level positions, not many supported to improve the conditions of unprotected communities. When we realized that Luis Caldera, to look good with the Republicans of the State Congress, wanted to take away the undocumented right of a driver's license, support Gil Cedillo to go to the Assembly in 1997. ”

What did Proposition 187 give us?

“I give a lot of credit to the same immigrants who went and marched, and they did it with great dignity. When the march was over, people cleaned the entire street, there was no garbage. We managed to revolutionize in a few years the popular opinion about the undocumented in California; and the awareness of the immigrant people.

"The other thing we achieved was that universities would help us do objective studies on the role and contributions of immigrants to counter false reports of anti-immigrant groups."

What are the lessons behind the 187?

The main teaching is never to let your guard down. California became a progressive state based on struggle and much effort. We cannot belittle any community or abandon anyone. We have to keep alive the promise that California is a state of opportunity. We cannot allow that dream to go out. Let people know that if they come to California, we will not underestimate them.

What can we take from the fight of those days in 1994 for the fight against Trump?

We already live this type of attack, now we have it nationally and we are in more danger. They attack us at the highest level of institutions. From the White House, it is pronounced that certain groups have no place in this society. We must not accept these attacks, that racism, the contempt for certain groups, whether religious or ethnic, the desire to dismantle the integration of a country that depends on immigrants. We have to keep fighting every day.


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