Latinos And Asians Pitted Against Each Other Over Affirmative Action


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Credit: Flickr Public Domain
A political war may be developing between Latinos and Asians in California over attempts to undo the state’s 18-year-old ban on race-conscious admissions policies at the University of California.
Asians recently went so far as to team up with Republicans in forcing lawmakers to withdraw legislation that if approved by voters, would overturn California’s ban on affirmative action in public higher education.
State Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, sponsor of the legislation, has argued it would “ensure that universities reflect the diversity of the state.”
The Asian opposition to the bill made for an unusual pairing of strange bedfellows because Asians traditionally have been part of the state Democratic Party’s broad coalition of union members, Latinos, Asian and African-Americans, trial lawyers and environmentalists.
Hernandez’s bill called for a Constitutional Amendment that would have put the issue of undoing the ban before voters – and it had cleared the state Senate in late January on a party-line vote.
But Asians organized and lobbied three Asian lawmakers to rescind their support, forcing Hernandez to withdraw the bill.
Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, chairman of the Latino caucus, said he was “disheartened” by the loss of the legislation.
“I’d like to bring it back,” says Hernandez. “I believe in it. I believe we need to make sure there’s equal opportunity for everyone in the state of California.”
In recent days, State Assembly Speaker John Perez has rallied the Latino and Black caucuses and vowed to win the fight.
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