Together with Fabián Núñez, Kevin De León and Juan José Gutiérrez participated in the organization of the 1994 mega-march against this anti-immigrant measure
Los Angeles City Councilman, former Assemblyman and former Los Angeles Senator Gil Cedillo, best known in California for his tireless struggle to give immigrants the right to a driver's license, states that If the Latino community managed to mobilize against hate in 1994, it can do so again in 2020.
“The redistribution of districts will be key in 2021 to choose more Latinos and Latinas in public offices in the state legislature and locally as in the city of Los Angeles. That's why we need to continue in the fight, organize and mobilize, ”he emphasizes.
And remember that "Latinos need to be counted in the 2020 census, register to vote and go out and cast our vote."
The fight against Proposition 187 was a decisive moment in the political career of Councilor Cedillo.
"It was the first time that the organized trade union movement fought for the rights of the undocumented. From then on, unions recognized the need to organize undocumented people in the workforce, ”says Cedillo.
At that time, the councilman was the general director of local 660 of the International Service Workers' Union representing 50,000 of the employees of Los Angeles County, mainly composed of African-American workers.
It was very significant that under his leadership, the union would rule against Proposition 187.
In fact, Cedillo was the first Latino, leader of workers who could mobilize a union and other union groups to support the undocumented.
"We handle that issue as a civil rights issue to overcome the reluctance of other unions to get involved in the fight against proposition 187. ”, He says.
The councilor worked with civil rights leader Bert Corona; Nativo López, leader of the National Mexican Brotherhood; and Juan José Gutiérrez, leader of the One Stop Immigration organization against proposal 187.
"That fight defined me because I could use the labor movement to defend the rights of immigrant workers," he says. And when he managed to hold a position of election, he was able to employ the government to defend them in the state legislature and now in the City Council of Los Angeles, ”he says.
Cedillo was general director of the SEIU 660 premises from 1990 to 1996, but not only did his union participate against 187 but he was joined by Mike Garcia of the Trade Union of Janitors (janitors), María Elena Durazo of the Hotel Workers Union (HERE,) Joel Ochoa of the Machinery Operators Union in the Factories; and John Grant of Local 770 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW).
What are the lessons behind proposition 187?
"That fight showed that if people organize themselves, they can defeat a discriminatory proposition against hate”, He says.
And he adds that California has always been a leader in the nation. “As California goes, the nation goes. In those years of Proposition 187, the state was a breeding ground for hate, but voters realized that this initiative was a mistake. They got organized and woke up to the sleeping giant because it mobilized people to register to vote and change the face of politics, ”he says.
What can we take from those days of fighting proposal 187 to use it in defense against Trump's anti-immigrant policies?
“We show that we need to fight and mobilize against hate because that gives us positive results. Proposition 187 unleashed a movement, mobilized people to become citizens, register to vote and turn to the polls”, He says.
At the level of the state legislature, he explains that it motivated the creation of the Latin bank.
"Assemblyman Richard Alatorre was the mastermind in creating districts through redistribution that made Latinos and Latinas win positions," he says.
But even more, former senator and former assemblyman Richard Polanco launched Alatorre's plan and did the hard work to find candidates and raise funds for Latinos and Latinas to be elected even in extremely conservative places like Orange County.