Hatred Rumbles along New Fault Line Called Proposition 187

By Martinez, Demetria | National Catholic Reporter, February 10, 1995 | Go to article overview

Hatred Rumbles along New Fault Line Called Proposition 187


Martinez, Demetria, National Catholic Reporter


It is now open season on immigrant or anyone who might look like an immigrant in California, thanks to the passage last November of Proposition 187, which would withhold health services and education from people who can't prove their immigration status is in order.

A temporary restraining order issued by a Los Angeles federal judge has not restrained those who love to hate. People are angry," said Bobbi Murray. "They (the proposition's advocates) just hoped 187 would pass and all the brown people would disappear."

Murray is spokeswoman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, or CHIRLA, which represents some 200 organizations.

Consider just a few examples of incidents reported on the CHIRLA hot line:

A private hospital in Hollywood refused service to a woman who was seven months pregnant and hemorrhaging. The woman, a U.S. citizen, was told that the staff no longer treated Hispanics. After desperate offers to pay cash for services, the woman miscarried.

At a San Fernando public health facility, a physician called an undocumented woman and her nephew "f---ing Mexicans" and refused to serve them.

In Ventura County, some restaurant customers demanded to see the green card of a cook who is here legally, explaining that it is now their duty to find and turn in illegal aliens.

A security guard at an Atherton school stopped two U.S.-born Chicanas and told them, "We don't have to let f---ing Mexicans in here anymore."

A San Francisco bus driver sounded a similar note of glee when he told a woman that "we don't have to let any more wetbacks on this bus" and then drove off without her.

Reports of police harassment of Latinos are also on the rise. These include traffic checkpoints in Latino communities where drivers are queried as to immigration documentation and increased collaboration between law enforcement and immigration agents.

In Huntington Park, a Latino community with a mostly white police force, a man was rear-ended in a car accident. Instead of offering help, police called him a "damned wetback," demanded to see his papers and threatened him with deportation.

In Englewood, a police officer, responding to a nuisance call, marched into the home of a Hispanic woman who is here legally, pulled his gun and demanded to see her green card. When she called 911, the officer radioed headquarters saying he had everything under control. Her children are still traumatized by the incident.

The overwhelming majority of people calling the CHIRLA hot line with such complaints are here legally. Imagine the plight of the undocumented who may not be aware that Proposition 187 is tied up in the courts.

Eight lawsuits have been filed challenging the constitutionality of 187. Court proceedings are expected to begin before the end of this year.

Los Angeles District Court Judge Mariana Pfalzer ruled Jan. 18 that health care facilities must post signs saying Proposition 187 is frozen in court. Supporters hope the ruling will make patients aware of their rights and push providers to behave responsibly.

"The enormity of fear and confusion in the immigrant community is really frightening," said Chris Herrera, director of publications for the California American Civil Liberties Union. …

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