In 1994, California fired the first shots in the comtemporary populist white supremacist war on the browning of the US by passing Prop. 187. This initiative aimed to deny state services to undocumented immigrants; the campaign to pass it consisted of commercials showing desparate people swarming over border fences with a voice over droning "they keep on coming…" Crude but effective.
Of course they did not stop coming; so-called "illegal immigrants" don't come here for benefits, they come here to work, to do the dirty jobs that those of us already here can opt out of. And nobody cracks down on the people who make money by hiring them, by squeezing cheap work out of the poor and vulnerable.
Prop. 187 had consequences quite unexpected by its proponents. It's provisions were thrown out in court, but more importantly, the sleeping brown giant in California began to wake up. California Latinos suddenly thought it worth the trouble to thread their way through the citizenship maze in order to protect themselves and their families. And for a good eight years after Prop. 187, very few of these new Latino voters gave the Republican party the time of day.
Now it is a Arizona's turn. Tyche Hendricks has an excellent article in today's San Francisco Chronicle on the aftermath and implementation of their Prop. 200, another inititative to deny services to the undocumented passed in November 2004.
Arizona's Latino population has nearly doubled in the past decade, from 700,000 to 1.3 million. The state has become a magnet for low- wage immigrant workers as construction booms with new retirement homes -- all filled with retirees who need services.
"There's a lot of Mexican labor in Arizona right now, and people don't like it," says Maria Blanco, executive director of the San Francisco-based Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. "They feel like it changes their way of life. Many immigrants don't speak English. It's unfamiliar."
Not surprisingly, immigrants, legal and undocumented, are scared and confused by resentment from folks who look like their employers.
Cristofer Rosete, 22, who hails from Mexico but lacks legal status, said it had not even occurred to him to apply for welfare or other benefits for himself, but he knows his 2-year-old son is eligible for medical care because the toddler was born in the United States.
Now, however, Rosete and his wife are nervous about taking the boy to doctor's appointments, for fear someone will report them to immigration authorities.
"When Prop. 200 first passed, South Phoenix was empty," said Rosete in Spanish. "Everyone kept their kids home from school. They were scared. I think everyone's waiting now to see what will happen."
Meanwhile the white supremacists just keep on coming.
"There's a tremendous, growing, grassroots movement throughout the country," said Virginia Abernethy, an adviser to the Proposition 200 campaign.…Abernethy, an emeritus professor of psychiatry and anthropology at Vanderbilt University, is affiliated with the Occidental Quarterly, a publication described by Max Blumenthal in the American Prospect as the "premier voice of the white-nationalist movement." Abernethy rejects the term white supremacist, with which she has been labeled, preferring to call herself a "European American separatist."
Time for these wingnuts to get over themselves. We Californians know, in the end you can't fight Mother Nature. When it rains enough, houses will slide down hills. However much you worry, when the earth gets ready, the earth is going to quake. And as long as we have the money and the jobs on this side of the border, folks from the South are going to come here to get a piece. That's what our ancesters did. Just get over it and you might even learn to like living in a multilingual, multicultural world.