In 1994, voters approved California Proposition 187, a ballot initiative to establish a state-run citizenship screening system that would deny undocumented immigrants access to public benefits such as non-emergency healthcare, education, and other social services. Governor Pete Wilson and the California Republican Party were strong proponents of Prop 187.The proposition emerged during an intense and unstable political climate as Californians – particularly Angelenos – dealt with the negative impacts of a national recession, a real estate downturn, the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, and the 1994 Northridge earthquake.Undocumented immigrants were often used as scapegoats for these impacts (e.g., Prop 187 in 1994, Prop 209 in 1996, and Prop 227 in 1998). Although the courts eventually ruled Prop 187 unconstitutional before it could take effect, the ballot initiative’s indirect impact continues to be felt.
Here, Loyola Marymount University’s Center for the Study of Los Angeles explores the lingering impact Prop 187 has had, on political representation, voting patterns, and total population. Today, there is greater Democratic representation and greater minority representation in California’s 186 partisan elected offices than ever before. There are fewer registered Republicans and more votes for Democratic candidates in general elections. The Latina/o population is greater than the white population and there are just as many (e.g., in California) or more (e.g., in Los Angeles County) foreign-born citizens than non-citizens. Download the report, “25 Years After Prop 187: Changes in the Political Landscape of California and Los Angeles From 1994 to 2019.“