Things That Matter

It Started As An Attack On Migrants But California’s Prop 187 Helped Shape California’s Political Identity Today

Today is the 25th anniversary of California voters passage of Proposition 187 which denied public service to immigrants without legal status. The prevailing legacy of Prop 187 should be a point of pride for California Latinxs who successfully overturned a scathing anti-immigrant measure. According to LAist, it “remains one of the most divisive measures in state history, and the battle over its passage ultimately reshaped California politics.”

The policy denied public health care and all education from elementary school to college to undocumented immigrants. Under Prop 187, state and local agencies had to report any immigrants who did not fulfill residency criteria to state and federal authorities.

When the initiative entered the ballot on November 8, 1994, it passed with 59% in favor. Following an uphill legal battle, it was declared unconstitutional in 1997 by a federal judge. Despite its horrid attack on the immigrant community, the battle to dismantle the proposition is what shifted California from a beacon of conservatism to a reliably blue state today. 

25 years ago, California officials concocted a plan to blame immigrants for a recent state recession. 

Following a state recession, in 1994, that cost California thousands of jobs, Republican Assemblyman Dick Mountjoy, an accountant and a political team came up with the ballot measure nicknamed “Save Our State.” Mountjoy’s measure said Californians suffered “economic hardship” because of undocumented immigrants using public services. 

Under the extreme initiative, anyone who wasn’t “lawfully admitted for a period of time” in the United States would be denied social services and education. Children would be kicked out of public schools after 90 days if their parents could not prove they were lawfully in the U.S. Moreover, teachers, health care providers, and law enforcement would be forced to survey their neighbors and report any individuals they believed to be undocumented to federal immigration agencies. 

These xenophobic provisions were alleged to “save money” for California. Prop 187 came during Republican Governor Pete Wilson’s re-election campaign, which was losing in the polls. Wilson was already using anti-immigrant rhetoric in his campaign ads, thus supporting Prop 187 was a no-brainer for the troubled governor. 

Latinx begin to organize against Prop 187.

During a debate, Wilson made it clear he had a zero-tolerance policy when it came to undocumented immigrants when he was asked if he would call INS on a second-grader.  

“I make no apology for putting California children first…Yes, those children who are in the country illegally deserve an education, but the government that owes it to them is not in Sacramento or even in Washington. It is in the country from which they have come, Wilson said

The same day 70,000 people, many Latinxs, marched in opposition to Prop 187. According to a Baltimore Sun report from the rally, at the time, it was the largest demonstration the state had ever seen. 

A graduate student, Angel Cervantes, organized 10,000 students from 30 LAUSD schools staged a walkout on November 2, 1994 — 6 days before the vote. 

“It was the biggest thing I had ever seen, probably one of the most life-changing empowering, moments,” Cervantes told the LA Times in 1994. “To see so many groups, so many organizations, so many banners, so many different Latin Americans… it was very powerful.”

Prop 187 passed — but it wouldn’t hold for long. 

Prop passed with 59 percent of voters approving it. But it was immediately challenged in court by seven groups, five of the lawsuits would make it through. Court Judge Mariana Pfaelzer issued a preliminary injunction blocking implementation on December 14, 1994. Despite appeals by the state, by 1996 President Bill Clinton’s welfare reform law would only strengthen the legal opposition to Prop 187. 

“Judge Pfaelzer ruled that the measure was unconstitutional in Nov. 1997, and almost two years later, in Jul. 1999, Proposition 187 was effectively overturned via federal mediation,” according to LAist. 

The fight against Prop 187 would solidify a better, stronger Democratic electorate — including a coalition of Latinxs.

The Republican-backed Prop 187 solidified for many Latinxs of the time that the GOP was an anti-immigrant and anti-Latinx party, causing many to flee toward the Democrats. These new Latinx Democrats would put Latinxs in elected offices in the years to come and shift California left. 

A report by Latino Decisions found that from 1994 to 2004, 1.8 million new voters, 66 percent of which were Latinx and 23 percent of which were Asian, registered in California. Today roughly 80 percent of elected positions in California belong to Democrats. 

The fight against Prop 187 unified Latinxs and other immigrants in a way the state had never seen. It forever changed the demographics of California politics and proved Latinxs were a valuable electorate with the power to transform.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

‘For Rosa’ Unravels The Madrigal Ten’s Fight For Reproductive Justice After Forced Sterilizations In California

Entertainment

‘For Rosa’ Unravels The Madrigal Ten’s Fight For Reproductive Justice After Forced Sterilizations In California

It’s 1970. Groans of discomfort permeate a Los Angeles County Hospital hallway as a Mexican-American woman is in labor. This is going to be her first child.

Little does she know that it’ll also be her last.

Courtesy of Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.

“This is an example of erasure,” director Kathryn Boyd-Batstone told mitú.

For Rosa, details a harrowing reality for many women of color in 1970s California. Inspired by the 1978 Madrigal v. Quilligan case, the story follows Eva, a mother faced with the pivotal decision to join the Madrigal Ten after discovering she was unknowingly sterilized.

Wanting to highlight each individual experience, Boyd-Batstone described her heroine as “a fictional composite character” inspired by multiple plaintiffs from the Madrigal Ten.

At first glance, Eva’s story prominently resembles the experience of plaintiff Melvina Hernández.

Hernández, at 23, signed a document that allegedly consented to an emergency C-section. Fearmongering by doctors and nurses highlighted a perceieved risk of mortality, pressuring her to sign a document she couldn’t read.

Four years later, she was informed that she had actually signed for a tubal ligation.

The history of eugenics is an ugly one, acting as a form of silent genocide.

In Eva’s case, medical professionals take advantage of her. Doctors and nurses took advantage of her language barrier and the pain of child labor.

The story, while historical, is relevant in the current context of the Trump era’s immigration policies.

Last year, an ICE nurse whistleblower reported the nonconsensual mass hysterectomies of migrant women detained at the border.

In the U.S. and Canada, Indigenous women have continuously been sterilized despite pro-sterilization policies ending in the 1970s.

“Although the court case happened over fifty years ago, we are still in a time where reproductive rights are not respected,” Boyd-Batstone said. “This is not an issue of the past, and so the fight continues.”

California’s eugenics laws disproportionately targeted Latinas.

California was one of the leading states in eugenics-informed practices.

After passing a law in 1909 that allowed medical practitioners to sterilize patients, the motives of cultural erasure became clear.

Hiding behind “good medicine” were racist and xenophobic incentives aimed to eliminate potential “welfare” cases.

Under this discriminatory pretense, Latinas were 59 percent more likely to be forcibly sterilized.

The United States has an extensive history of nonconsensual medical experimentation on Black and Brown communities.

Studies like the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male,” which lasted over 40 years, in part, shaped the mistrust between the Black community and the medical industry.

A mistrust that remains prevalent in the 21st century.

The Madrigal Ten is a testament to the fight for reproductive rights and women of colors’ autonomy.

In 1975, Dolores Madrigal alongside nine other women filed a class-action lawsuit against L.A. County-USC Medical Center for the nonconsensual tubal ligations that occurred during child labor.

A complicated ordeal that received little funding, 26-year-old Chicana Civil Rights attorney Antonia Hernández impressively took on the case. Boyd-Batstone who read the court documents said, “it became obvious that at the time the hospital did not have adequate steps in place to make sure their patients could give informed consent.”

Dr. Karen Benker, the only physician to testify against the hospital, told the New York Times in 2016 that “voluntary informed consent” didn’t exist in the early 70s.

That is until after the National Research Act of 1974 following public outcry from the Tuskegee study.

Following Roe v. Wade, the Madrigal Ten case sought to end the forced sterilizations of women of color, define informed consent and provide consent forms in Spanish at a reading level individuals could understand.

In 2016 PBS released a documentary on the case called “No Más Bebes,” which greatly inspired Boyd-Batstone to create For Rosa.

“The main feeling that stuck with me after watching the documentary was how much strength it must have taken these women to face someone who tried to take their identity and demand accountability,” she said.

Validating women of color’s experiences was essential for Boyd-Batstone. While the film mirrors the malpractices of the medical industry, brought upon by systematic racism and bias, she also hopes that women who have felt “diminished or uneasy around doctors” find the courage to speak out.

For Rosa, sheds light on traditional themes of womanhood and Chicana feminism.

“Stop Forced Sterilization” poster by Rachael Romero, 1977. // Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Simultaneously, the lawsuit took place during the rise in Chicana activism.

As tensions between mainstream white feminism and women of color peaked; Chicana activists put legislative reform and reproductive justice at the forefront. Furthermore, they brought awareness to discrimination as it intersects race, class, gender, and immigration.

Though on the sidelines, the case also harbored on the cultural question of defining femininity.

Worried for the state of her marriage, the correspondence of fertility with femininity felt dense. Heavily ingrained in machismo culture; the pain and frustration of no longer being able to conceive are palpable.

But the strength and courage to speak out defies all odds.

“As women, especially Latina women, I don’t think many stories show us how to do this,” Boyd-Batstone said. “So it was important to me to, one, honor the Madrigal Ten’s bravery but [to also] show young girls what it looks like to stand up and fight for your rights.” 

Though it has been nearly 50 years since the Madrigal Ten case, the fight for women’s autonomy and reproductive rights is ongoing.

Courtesy of Kathryn Boyd-Batstone

On June 7, 1978, the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the USC Medical Center. Judge Jesse Curtis stated that miscommunication and language barriers resulted in unwanted sterilizations.

Nonetheless, the lawsuit’s impact was potent. The California Department of Health revised its sterilization guidelines to include a 72-hour waiting period and issued a booklet on sterilization in Spanish.

In 1979, California abolished its sterilization law after 70 years.

More than 20,000 people of various races and ethnicities were sterilized during this time.

For Rosa ends with archival footage of Dolores Madrigal and Antonia Hernández announcing the lawsuit. Nevertheless, its timely release is indicative of the continual demands for justice today.

Now more than ever we must remember the narratives of the Madrigal Ten, and other Black and Brown activists who continue to pave the way for change.

“My hope is that For Rosa humanizes the women so that whatever culture or race or gender you are, you can empathize with the women as human beings,” Boyd-Batstone said.

“My hope is that every person who watches understands that these Latina women are deserving of respect.” 

Para Rosa (For Rosa) is available to stream on HBO Max.

READ: Joe Biden Says ‘Healthcare is Not a Privilege, It’s a Right,’ Donald Trump and the GOP Disagree

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This Virgen de Guadalupe Mural Was Vandalized In Los Angeles And The Community Is Devastated

Things That Matter

This Virgen de Guadalupe Mural Was Vandalized In Los Angeles And The Community Is Devastated

La Virgen de Guadalupe means so much to so many. Especially the Latino community in Van Nuys, California, near Los Angeles, which is reeling after an important mural depicting La Virgen was vandalized overnight.

Although security cam footage captured an unknown man defacing the mural, the suspect is still at large and the community is asking for help in finding out who committed the vandalism.

A suspect was caught on camera destroying a mural with La Virgen de Guadalupe.

The community of Saint Elisabeth Church near Los Angeles is asking the community for prayers after a mural of Our Lady of Guadalupe was vandalized on church grounds. 

The parish’s security system recorded video footage of an unknown man dressed in black approaching the mural with a sledgehammer at 1:40 a.m. Wednesday morning. He can be seen smashing the tiles that make up Our Lady’s face several times before fleeing.

On Friday, April 23, Father Di Marzio led a prayer service, which was livestreamed on the parish Facebook page. Some 30 parishioners gathered to sing and pray a decade of the rosary in front of the mural, which is roped off with caution tape, while nearly 100 others joined online. In closing, Fr. Di Marzio encouraged parishioners to “continue to pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary to help us, and to touch the heart of the person who did this.” 

Also on Friday, a local artist, Geo Rhodes, was scheduled to visit the mural and discuss a plan for repair, arranged by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. “We hope that soon we will restore the image, or have a new one more beautiful than the one we had before,” Fr. Di Marzio said.  

La Virgen de Guadalupe is extremely important to the church.

The hand-painted tile mural stands between the church and the rectory. It was installed over 35 years ago as a “symbol of community unity,” said business manager Irma Ochoa. Each square tile was sponsored by a parish family. Overlooking a small altar, the mural has become a popular place for parishioners to pray and light candles, asking Our Lady for special blessings. 

“I feel an unspeakable sadness,” said Fr. Antonio Fiorenza, who is in residence at the parish. “But I feel pity for the one who made this sacrilegious gesture. I pray for his conversion and for all those who show contempt to the Virgin Mary.”

To donate to the restoration fund, visit stelisabethchurch.org

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com