Wednesday, October 07, 2015

California history: when we packed those people in trains

Last week, in a post surveying immigration history, I made a glancing reference to the practice in the U.S. southwest of "packing Mexican workers in trains and sending them home." I've since realized that this is not universally remembered history.

One of the many California bills Governor Jerry Brown has signed this year aims to change that. Here's how the law's legislative sponsor Assemblymember Christina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) explains her measure:

... Assembly Bill 146 encourages that the “Mexican Repatriation,” the unconstitutional deportation that occurred in California 1930’s, of over 1 million U.S. citizens and lawful residents of Mexican descent, be included in student history textbooks and courses of study. ...

“I firmly believe that this is a lesson worth teaching. In fact, a certain Republican Presidential frontrunner, should now see that his unworkable and reckless plan for mass deportation, will be a human disaster, just as it was so many years ago. He could learn a lesson from the minds and the hearts of our young school children,” Assemblymember Garcia commented.

Take that, Donald Trump.

Here's a video that tells the story of the Mexican expulsions. The picture is from the video.
'Tis the season when Gov. Jerry closets himself with all the bills (640 or so!) the two house of the California Legislature have laboriously passed through committees, procedural hurdles and final votes -- and decides which he'll sign. He has until October 11 to complete the process.

Brown can be infuriating. After all that, he's been known to kill off, without much warning, the carefully crafted products of years of agitation. And these rejected measures were usually brought by his own party. So it was with the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2012 -- Democratic legislators brought the requirement that employers pay overtime to these workers back in 2013 and Brown signed that bill into law.

With that history, waiting for the Governor to act is an annual pins-and-needles ritual for advocates.

He's signed a lot of what I consider good stuff this year: a bill requiring police departments to collect and report information, including race, on who they stop and who they shoot; a new requirement that schools teach an accurate sex education curriculum in middle and high school; and permission for physician-assisted suicide, explaining his affirmation in a thoughtful message.

Measures encouraging divestment by state pension funds from fossil fuels and suspending the high school exit exam await his consideration.

Brown can be thorough and thoughtful -- you'd think a bill prohibiting flying drones in such a way as to impede firefighters would be a no-brainer. But he has just vetoed such a measure. He held it would have just added to an already over-long criminal code. If people flying drones push their luck, this one might come back ...

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