tags: , , , , , , , , Press Releases

When GOP Hopefuls Descend On CA, Will They Pay Attention To Lessons Embodied By The State?

Share This:

Ahead of Reagan Library Debate, Immigration and Labor Leaders Join Political Scientist to Discuss How CA Serves a Cautionary Tale for the National GOP

Click here to listen to today’s recording.

Tonight’s debate in California offers a reminder – a cautionary tale – for Republicans.  In 1994, California’s Governor Pete Wilson (R) pushed through the infamous anti-immigrant Proposition 187 and ignited a political backlash from the state’s changing electorate.  Latino and Asian immigrants became citizens in record numbers and transformed the state politically.  As a result, the California Republican Party – once the launching pad of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan – is no longer competitive statewide.

Ahead of the debate tonight, immigrant rights and labor leaders and a California-based political scientist gathered on a press call to set the stage for the GOP’s latest primary debate; revisit California’s history on the immigration issue; and explain why the Republican Party’s embrace of xenophobic candidates, like Donald Trump, could spell disaster for the GOP nationwide.

“In 2012, Mitt Romney won just 23% of the Latino vote in 2012, and he needed closer to 40%.  This cycle, the gap for Republicans is even wider, with Latino Decisions political experts positing that a Republican candidate would need around 47% of the Latino vote to win the national election,” said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice.  “So how have Republicans worked to fill that gap?   By refusing to take up immigration reform in the House.  By suing to stop the President’s executive actions that would help family members and friends of Latino, APIA, and immigrant voters.  By calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals.  By pledging to strip citizenship from babies in America.  By proposing a Berlin-style wall along the border—both borders.  They’ve dug the hole even deeper, and if they don’t reverse course they might as well just crawl in.  California provides a startling example for the national GOP—if only they are ready to listen.”

Outside of the Ronald Reagan Library today, more than 40 local and statewide California organizations—including faith, immigrant, civil rights groups, students, and labor unions—will hold a rally, calling for a #NoHateDebate and an end to the racist, xenophobic rhetoric that has fueled the Republican primary.  Hundreds of immigration supporters are traveling to Simi Valley.  Prior to leaving, local groups are holding a pre-debate press conference in Los Angeles at 9:30am PT/12:30pm ET. Both events will be live-streamed on Periscope and Twitter at @Citizenship4All.

Angelica Salas, President and Board Chair for the Coalition For Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles Action Fund (CHIRLA Action Fund), is one of the organizers of today’s event.  She said, “We at CHIRLA Action Fund will not tolerate the hate and bigotry promoted by those that seek our country’s highest elected office. People of all walks of life are calling on all of the GOP candidates to end the hateful attacks on immigrants, working families, and people of color.”

She added, “We want to send a word to Donald Trump, the front runner for the Republican Party. His motto is ‘Make America Great Again,’ but we know that the America Mr. Trump is nostalgic for is one in which Latinos, women, and blacks had less rights. No thank you, Mr. Trump. We stand for an America that is welcoming and inclusive. We will fight to build a more perfect union where we are all treated as human beings. As we have learned here in California, we will march, we will register, and we will become citizens. We are challenging the GOP, but we are also challenging our community to not allow this kind of bigotry to enter the White House. Across race, gender, and immigration status, California is thriving because all people are working together. We have a lot to show these GOP candidates about what the future could look like.”

Said Maria Elena Durazo, General Vice President for Immigration, Civil Rights, and Diversity at UNITE HERE, “It’s clear that we’re back to the hate of 1994 that disseminated from Proposition 187; we’re back with that kind of hate in the discourse of the GOP.  It wasn’t just that Latinos ‘woke up’ in California—it took a lot of hard work.  In 1994, we didn’t set out to elect more Latinos or immigrations, we set out to raise the bar for everybody and that’s exactly what we did.  California embodies an extraordinary change on a number of levels, and it should teach both parties, though Republicans especially, that you can’t take the Latino vote for granted.”

Adrian D. Pantoja, Ph.D., Senior Analyst at Latino Decisions and a political scientist based in California, said: “Proposition 187 and anti-immigrant rhetoric mobilized Latino voters and changed the face of politics in California. The current anti-immigrant rhetoric from the Republican Party is going to have the same effect, but on a national scale.”

For more on why California remains a cautionary tale for the GOP, see this Latino Decisions blog post HERE.