Juan José Gutiérrez: "The people responded against Prop. 187 as never before"

Juan José Gutiérrez speaks to a group of community leaders about the next march on May 1, in the streets of downtown Los Angeles.

Ciro Cesar / The Opinion

For the mega-march on October 16, 1994 against Proposition 187, the immigrant working people responded as never before, says Juan José Gutiérrez, director of the One Stop Immigration organization who along with Fabián Núñez, Kevin De León and Gil Cedillo they were the leaders who led the resistance against the electoral measure that sought to deny education, health and public services to undocumented immigrants in California.

“The community was massively present because it understood the grave danger it faced, personified by Proposition 187 that sought to criminalize immigrants and turn teachers, nurses, road patrollers, firefighters, sheriffs and DMV employees into migration agents .

"This measure was intended not to provide public services to immigrants; and betray any person suspected of being in the country without documents"He exposes.

Juan José Gutiérrez also reminded Latino voters of the power that these elections have in their hands to choose the best for their community (Photo: Aurelia Ventura / La Opinion)

When the 187 was approved with 59% of the vote, we lost a battle, but not the war.

"We defeated them politically because the state became the most progressive, the most democratic in the country and the one who is at the forefront in the defense of immigrants. ”holds.

Juan José mentions that the fight against 187 was a very special moment and a historic milestone.

“From there, there is talk of a before and after; and it was what brought the political awakening of the working and immigrant people, ”he says.

Note that Latinos represented less than 10% of the vote in California. "Today we are approximately 25%," he says.

In addition, the director of One Stop Immigration and Education Center, states that before 1994, immigrants, especially Mexicans, were reluctant to naturalize.

“We saw becoming citizens as a shame. You had to be proud of being Mexican. Today, we are above 60% in naturalization requests from eligible people, ”he says.

The struggle for 187 had four main actors, Kevin De León who was responsible for calling and mobilizing the people of Santa Barbara and Ventura; Fabián Núñez to immigrants from Pomona, Riverside and San Bernardino; Gil Cedillo moved the unions to support Proposition 187.

Juan José Gutiérrez was one of the main leaders in the fight against Proposition 187 in 1994. (Photo file / Opinion)

Juan José took charge of calling and organizing immigrants from downtown Los Angeles to participate in the megamarch.

The big difference that this leader finds between 1994 and the present is that Latinos have made progress on all fronts.

"Once we discover the magic of becoming citizens, we find that we have the right to choose and apply," he says.

He also says that "we take off the complex of competing for popular election positions. Along the way, we have been able to obtain very important positions in the state legislature and in the congress"He notes.

And he states that the mega-march against 187 in 1994 was the preamble to the general strike of 2005; and the Great March of 2006, in response to the H.R. 4437 which sought to increase fines against undocumented immigration and criminalize undocumented immigrants.

"If we take stock between 1994 and the current era, we now have a lot of power, but before the most anti-immigrant president we can remember, we need to do more soon in the face of the 2020 election," he remarks.

Juan Jose works at the November 2020 Coalition, a permanent campaign of civic participation. “We want to be an inspiration factor for all Latinos who can vote, go to the polls; and end the nightmare of having an anti-immigrant president. ”


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