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The Right Way, the Wrong Way, and the American Way: Nativist Policy in California, 1990-2000


This thesis examines how California’s Proposition 187 and Proposition 227 affected Latina/o families and communities. During the 1994 gubernatorial campaign, Republican Governor Pete Wilson publically blamed undocumented immigrants for higher crime rates, the economic downturn, and higher unemployment in California. This anti-immigrant backlash had consequences for the future of California politics. However, I argue that it had an equally significant impact on the lives of Latina/o families. Using newspapers, speeches, oral interviews and government documents, I demonstrate that the campaign to pass Proposition 187 and Proposition 227 produced fear as well as threatened the unity and stability of immigrant households. By focusing on these overlooked families, I contribute to the cultural history of U.S. Latina/os, as well as the histories of immigration and childhood.

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