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The writer surveys California's long history of nativist legislation. In doing so, he demonstrates that three recent Californian ballot initiatives—Proposition 187, a 1994 ballot that denied public services such as education and nonemergency medical care to so-called illegal aliens, Proposition 209, which banned affirmative action in the public sector, and Proposition 227, which banned bilingual education in public schools—were not just a spasmodic backlash against recent demographic trends but were the culmination of a century-and-a-half of nativist politics in California. He shows that, from the beginning of statehood, anti-immigrant laws aimed at Latin-Americans and Asian-Americans have received broad support from the California electorate, which has always been, and still is, predominantly white and native-born.


Originally published in Journal of the West 48:2 (Spring 2009). Copyright ABC-CLIO, LLC ©2009, reproduced with permission of ABC-CLIO.

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