By Francine Kiefer, The Christian Science Monitor
When California voters backed an initiative in 1994 to crack down on illegal immigration, the ballot measure was titled “Save Our State.” Four years later, Californians voted to greatly restrict bilingual education.
That “woke up a sleeping giant in the Latino community,” says Lorena Gonzalez, now a member of the state Assembly and chair of the Latino Caucus. The change wasn’t immediate, but today, the story of California’s evolution on immigration may be a “window into the nation’s future,” says Mark Baldassare, president of the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. He and others point to the explosion of minority populations as the catalyst for change.
Alongside that are changes in attitudes, rooted in everyday experience. In 1998, only 46% of adults believed that “immigrants are a benefit to California,” a poll by the institute found. In 2018, 72% did. Mr. Baldassare says people are “realizing and recognizing what’s in the fabric in society and what works in California.”